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|Original author(s)||Thomas Reardon|
|Initial release||August 16, 1995; 24 years ago|
|Operating system||Windows(and previously supported: Mac OS X, Solaris, HP-UX)|
|Platform||IA-32, x86-64, ARMv7, IA-64(and previously supported: MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, 68k, SPARC, PA-RISC)|
|Included with||Windows 95 OSR1 and later|
Windows NT 4 and later
Mac OS 8.1 through Mac OS X 10.2
|Standard(s)||HTML5, CSS3, WOFF, SVG, RSS, Atom, JPEG XR|
|Available in||95 languages|
|License||Proprietary, requires a Windows license|
Internet Explorer[a] (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer[b] and Windows Internet Explorer,[c] commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphicalweb browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.
Internet Explorer was once the most widely used web browser, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share by 2003. This came after Microsoft used bundling to win the first browser war against Netscape, which was the dominant browser in the 1990s. Its usage share has since declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008), and with the growing popularity of operating systems such as Android and iOS that do not support Internet Explorer. Estimates for Internet Explorer's market share are about 2.28% across all platforms or by StatCounter's numbers ranked 7th, while on desktop, the only platform on which it has ever had significant share (e.g., excluding mobile and Xbox) it is ranked 4th at 5%, after macOS's Safari. It manages to reach second rank after Chrome when its statistics are combined with its successor, Edge (others place IE 3rd with 7.44% after Firefox). Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s, with over 1,000 people involved in the project by 1999.
Versions of Internet Explorer for other operating systems have also been produced, including an Xbox 360 version called Internet Explorer for Xbox and for platforms Microsoft no longer supports: Internet Explorer for Mac and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris and HP-UX), and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile made for Windows CE, Windows Phone and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Phone 7.
On March 17, 2015, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Edge would replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on its Windows 10 devices (while support for older Windows has since been announced, as of 2019 Edge still has lower share than IE's, that's in decline). This effectively makes Internet Explorer 11 the last release (however IE 8, 9, and 10 also receive security updates as of 2019). Internet Explorer, however, remains on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 primarily for enterprise purposes. Since January 12, 2016, only Internet Explorer 11 has been supported. Support varies based on the operating system's technical capabilities and its support lifecycle.
The browser has been scrutinized throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of fair browser competition.
- 6Market adoption and usage share
Internet Explorer 1
The Internet Explorer project was started in the summer of 1994 by Thomas Reardon, who, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review of 2003, used source code from Spyglass, Inc. Mosaic, which was an early commercial web browser with formal ties to the pioneering National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Mosaic browser. In late 1994, Microsoft licensed Spyglass Mosaic for a quarterly fee plus a percentage of Microsoft's non-Windows revenues for the software. Although bearing a name similar to NCSA Mosaic, Spyglass Mosaic had used the NCSA Mosaic source code sparingly.
The first version, dubbed Microsoft Internet Explorer, was installed as part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and Plus!. The Internet Explorer team began with about six people in early development. Internet Explorer 1.5 was released several months later for Windows NT and added support for basic table rendering. By including it free of charge with their operating system, they did not have to pay royalties to Spyglass Inc, resulting in a lawsuit and a US$8 million settlement on January 22, 1997.
Microsoft was sued by Synet Inc. in 1996, over the trademark infringement.
Internet Explorer 2–10
Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer 11 is featured in Windows 8.1, which was released on October 17, 2013. It includes an incomplete mechanism for syncing tabs. It is a major update to its developer tools, enhanced scaling for high DPI screens,HTML5 prerender and prefetch,hardware-acceleratedJPEG decoding,closed captioning, HTML5 full screen, and is the first Internet Explorer to support WebGL and Google's protocol SPDY (starting at v3). This version of IE has features dedicated to Windows 8.1, including cryptography (WebCrypto),adaptive bitrate streaming (Media Source Extensions) and Encrypted Media Extensions.
Internet Explorer 11 was made available for Windows 7 users to download on November 7, 2013, with Automatic Updates in the following weeks.
Internet Explorer 11's user agent string now identifies the agent as 'Trident' (the underlying layout engine) instead of 'MSIE'. It also announces compatibility with Gecko (the layout engine of Firefox).
Internet Explorer 11 will be made available for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard in the spring of 2019.
End of life
Microsoft Edge, officially unveiled on January 21, 2015, has replaced Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows 10. Internet Explorer is still installed in Windows 10 in order to maintain compatibility with older websites and intranet sites that require ActiveX and other Microsoft legacy web technologies.
According to Microsoft, development of new features for Internet Explorer has ceased. However, it will continue to be maintained as part of the support policy for the versions of Windows with which it is included.
Internet Explorer has been designed to view a broad range of web pages and provide certain features within the operating system, including Microsoft Update. During the heyday of the browser wars, Internet Explorer superseded Netscape only when it caught up technologically to support the progressive features of the time.[better source needed]
Internet Explorer, using the Tridentlayout engine:
- Supports HTML 4.01, HTML 5, CSS Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3, XML 1.0, and DOM Level 1, with minor implementation gaps.
- Fully supports XSLT 1.0 as well as an obsolete Microsoft dialect of XSLT often referred to as WD-xsl, which was loosely based on the December 1998 W3C Working Draft of XSL. Support for XSLT 2.0 lies in the future: semi-official Microsoft bloggers have indicated that development is underway, but no dates have been announced.
- Almost full conformance to CSS 2.1 has been added in the Internet Explorer 8 release. The trident rendering engine in Internet Explorer 9 in 2011, scored highest in the official W3C conformance test suite for CSS 2.1 of all major browsers.
- Supports XHTML in Internet Explorer 9 (Trident version 5.0). Prior versions can render XHTML documents authored with HTML compatibility principles and served with a
- Supports a subset of SVG in Internet Explorer 9 (Trident version 5.0), excluding SMIL, SVG fonts and filters.
Internet Explorer uses DOCTYPE sniffing to choose between standards mode and a 'quirks mode' in which it deliberately mimicks nonstandard behaviours of old versions of MSIE for HTML and CSS rendering on screen (Internet Explorer always uses standards mode for printing). It also provides its own dialect of ECMAScript called JScript.
Internet Explorer was criticised by Tim Berners-Lee for its limited support for SVG, which is promoted by W3C.
Internet Explorer has introduced an array of proprietary extensions to many of the standards, including HTML, CSS, and the DOM. This has resulted in a number of web pages that appear broken in standards-compliant web browsers and has introduced the need for a 'quirks mode' to allow for rendering improper elements meant for Internet Explorer in these other browsers.
Internet Explorer has introduced a number of extensions to the DOM that have been adopted by other browsers. These include the innerHTML property, which provides access to the HTML string within an element; the XMLHttpRequest object, which allows the sending of HTTP request and receiving of HTTP response, and may be used to perform AJAX; and the designMode attribute of the contentDocument object, which enables rich text editing of HTML documents. Some of these functionalities were not possible until the introduction of the W3C DOM methods. Its Ruby character extension to HTML is also accepted as a module in W3C XHTML 1.1, though it is not found in all versions of W3C HTML.
Microsoft submitted several other features of IE for consideration by the W3C for standardization. These include the 'behaviour' CSS property, which connects the HTML elements with JScript behaviours (known as HTML Components, HTC); HTML+TIME profile, which adds timing and media synchronization support to HTML documents (similar to the W3C XHTML+SMIL), and the VMLvector graphics file format. However, all were rejected, at least in their original forms; VML was subsequently combined with PGML (proposed by Adobe and Sun), resulting in the W3C-approved SVG format, one of the few vector image formats being used on the web, which IE did not support until version 9.
Other non-standard behaviours include: support for vertical text, but in a syntax different from W3C CSS3 candidate recommendation, support for a variety of image effects and page transitions, which are not found in W3C CSS, support for obfuscated script code, in particular JScript.Encode, as well as support for embeddingEOT fonts in web pages.
Support for favicons was first added in Internet Explorer 5. Internet Explorer supports favicons in PNG, static GIF and native Windows icon formats. In Windows Vista and later, Internet Explorer can display native Windows icons that have embedded PNG files.
Usability and accessibility
Internet Explorer makes use of the accessibility framework provided in Windows. Internet Explorer is also a user interface for FTP, with operations similar to that of Windows Explorer. Pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing were added respectively in Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7. Tabbed browsing can also be added to older versions by installing MSN Search Toolbar or Yahoo Toolbar.
Internet Explorer caches visited content in the Temporary Internet Files folder to allow quicker access (or offline access) to previously visited pages. The content is indexed in a database file, known as Index.dat. Multiple Index.dat files exist which index different content—visited content, web feeds, visited URLs, cookies, etc.
Prior to IE7, clearing the cache used to clear the index but the files themselves were not reliably removed, posing a potential security and privacy risk. In IE7 and later, when the cache is cleared, the cache files are more reliably removed, and the index.dat file is overwritten with null bytes.
Caching has been improved in IE9.
Internet Explorer is fully configurable using Group Policy. Administrators of Windows Server domains (for domain-joined computers) or the local computer can apply and enforce a variety of settings on computers that affect the user interface (such as disabling menu items and individual configuration options), as well as underlying security features such as downloading of files, zone configuration, per-site settings, ActiveX control behaviour and others. Policy settings can be configured for each user and for each machine. Internet Explorer also supports Integrated Windows Authentication.
Internet Explorer uses a componentized architecture built on the Component Object Model (COM) technology. It consists of several major components, each of which is contained in a separate Dynamic-link library (DLL) and exposes a set of COM programming interfaces hosted by the Internet Explorer main executable, iexplore.exe:
- WinInet.dll is the protocol handler for HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. It handles all network communication over these protocols.
- URLMon.dll is responsible for MIME-type handling and download of web content, and provides a thread-safe wrapper around WinInet.dll and other protocol implementations.
- MSHTML.dll houses the Tridentrendering engine introduced in Internet Explorer 4, which is responsible for displaying the pages on-screen and handling the Document Object Model of the web pages. MSHTML.dll parses the HTML/CSS file and creates the internal DOM tree representation of it. It also exposes a set of APIs for runtime inspection and modification of the DOM tree. The DOM tree is further processed by a layout engine which then renders the internal representation on screen.
- IEFrame.dll contains the user interface and window of IE in Internet Explorer 7 and above.
- ShDocVw.dll provides the navigation, local caching and history functionalities for the browser.
- BrowseUI.dll is responsible for rendering the browser user interface such as menus and toolbars.
Internet Explorer does not include any native scripting functionality. Rather, MSHTML.dll exposes an API that permits a programmer to develop a scripting environment to be plugged-in and to access the DOM tree. Internet Explorer 8 includes the bindings for the Active Scripting engine, which is a part of Microsoft Windows and allows any language implemented as an Active Scripting module to be used for client-side scripting. By default, only the JScript and VBScript modules are provided; third party implementations like ScreamingMonkey (for ECMAScript 4 support) can also be used. Microsoft also makes available the Microsoft Silverlight runtime (not supported in Windows RT) that allows CLI languages, including DLR-based dynamic languages like IronPython and IronRuby, to be used for client-side scripting.
Internet Explorer 8 introduces some major architectural changes, called Loosely Coupled IE (LCIE). LCIE separates the main window process (frame process) from the processes hosting the different web applications in different tabs (tab processes). A frame process can create multiple tab processes, each of which can be of a different integrity level; each tab process can host multiple web sites. The processes use asynchronous Inter-Process Communication to synchronize themselves. Generally, there will be a single frame process for all web sites. In Windows Vista with Protected Mode turned on, however, opening privileged content (such as local HTML pages) will create a new tab process as it will not be constrained by Protected Mode.
Internet Explorer exposes a set of Component Object Model (COM) interfaces that allows add-ons to extend the functionality of the browser. Extensibility is divided into two types: Browser extensibility and content extensibility. Browser extensibility involves adding context menu entries, toolbars, menu items or Browser Helper Objects (BHO). BHOs are used to extend the feature set of the browser, whereas the other extensibility options are used to expose that feature in the user interface. Content extensibility adds support for non-native content formats. It allows Internet Explorer to handle new file formats and new protocols, e.g. WebM or SPDY. In addition, web pages can integrate widgets known as ActiveX controls which run on Windows only but have vast potentials to extend the content capabilities; Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight are examples. Add-ons can be installed either locally, or directly by a web site.
Since malicious add-ons can compromise the security of a system, Internet Explorer implements several safeguards. Internet Explorer 6 with Service Pack 2 and later feature an Add-on Manager for enabling or disabling individual add-ons, complemented by a 'No Add-Ons' mode. Starting with Windows Vista, Internet Explorer and its BHOs run with restricted privileges and are isolated from the rest of the system. Internet Explorer 9 introduced a new component – Add-on Performance Advisor. Add-on Performance Advisor shows a notification when one or more of installed add-ons exceed a pre-set performance threshold. The notification appears in the Notification Bar when the user launches the browser. Windows 8 and Windows RT introduce a Metro-style version of Internet Explorer that is entirely sandboxed and does not run add-ons at all. In addition, Windows RT cannot download or install ActiveX controls at all; although existing ones bundled with Windows RT still run in the traditional version of Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer itself can be hosted by other applications via a set of COM interfaces. This can be used to embed the browser functionality inside a computer program or create Internet Explorer shells.
Internet Explorer uses a zone-based security framework that groups sites based on certain conditions, including whether it is an Internet- or intranet-based site as well as a user-editable whitelist. Security restrictions are applied per zone; all the sites in a zone are subject to the restrictions.
Internet Explorer 6 SP2 onwards uses the Attachment Execution Service of Microsoft Windows to mark executable files downloaded from the Internet as being potentially unsafe. Accessing files marked as such will prompt the user to make an explicit trust decision to execute the file, as executables originating from the Internet can be potentially unsafe. This helps in preventing accidental installation of malware.
Internet Explorer 7 introduced the phishing filter, that restricts access to phishing sites unless the user overrides the decision. With version 8, it also blocks access to sites known to host malware. Downloads are also checked to see if they are known to be malware-infected.
In Windows Vista, Internet Explorer by default runs in what is called Protected Mode, where the privileges of the browser itself are severely restricted—it cannot make any system-wide changes. One can optionally turn this mode off but this is not recommended. This also effectively restricts the privileges of any add-ons. As a result, even if the browser or any add-on is compromised, the damage the security breach can cause is limited.
Patches and updates to the browser are released periodically and made available through the Windows Update service, as well as through Automatic Updates. Although security patches continue to be released for a range of platforms, most feature additions and security infrastructure improvements are only made available on operating systems which are in Microsoft's mainstream support phase.
On December 16, 2008, Trend Micro recommended users switch to rival browsers until an emergency patch was released to fix a potential security risk which 'could allow outside users to take control of a person's computer and steal their passwords'. Microsoft representatives countered this recommendation, claiming that '0.02% of internet sites' were affected by the flaw. A fix for the issue was released the following day with the Security Update for Internet Explorer KB960714, on Microsoft Windows Update.
In 2011, a report by Accuvant, funded by Google, rated the security (based on sandboxing) of Internet Explorer worse than Google Chrome but better than Mozilla Firefox.
Download Microsoft Internet Explorer For Mac
A more recent browser security white paper comparing Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer 11 by X41 D-Sec in 2017 came to similar conclusions, also based on sandboxing and support of legacy web technologies.
Internet Explorer has been subjected to many security vulnerabilities and concerns: much of the spyware, adware, and computer viruses across the Internet are made possible by exploitable bugs and flaws in the security architecture of Internet Explorer, sometimes requiring nothing more than viewing of a malicious web page in order to install themselves. This is known as a 'drive-by install'. There are also attempts to trick the user into installing malicious software by misrepresenting the software's true purpose in the description section of an ActiveX security alert.
A number of security flaws affecting IE originated not in the browser itself, but ActiveX-based add-ons used by it. Because the add-ons have the same privilege as IE, the flaws can be as critical as browser flaws. This has led to the ActiveX-based architecture being criticized for being fault-prone. By 2005, some experts maintained that the dangers of ActiveX have been overstated and there were safeguards in place. In 2006, new techniques using automated testing found more than a hundred vulnerabilities in standard Microsoft ActiveX components. Security features introduced in Internet Explorer 7 mitigated some of these vulnerabilities.
In 2008, Internet Explorer had a number of published security vulnerabilities. According to research done by security research firm Secunia, Microsoft did not respond as quickly as its competitors in fixing security holes and making patches available. The firm also reported 366 vulnerabilities in ActiveX controls, an increase from the previous year.
According to an October 2010 report in The Register, researcher Chris Evans had detected a known security vulnerability which, then dating back to 2008, had not been fixed for at least 600 days. Microsoft says that it had known about this vulnerability but it was of very low severity as the victim web site must be configured in a special way for this attack to be feasible at all.
In December 2010, researchers were able to bypass the 'Protected Mode' feature in Internet Explorer.
Vulnerability exploited in attacks on U.S. firms
In an advisory on January 14, 2010, Microsoft said that attackers targeting Google and other U.S. companies used software that exploits a security hole, which had already been patched, in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability affected Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP and Server 2003, IE6 SP1 on Windows 2000 SP4, IE7 on Windows Vista, XP, Server 2008 and Server 2003, and IE8 on Windows 7, Vista, XP, Server 2003, and Server 2008 (R2).
The German government warned users against using Internet Explorer and recommended switching to an alternative web browser, due to the major security hole described above that was exploited in Internet Explorer. The Australian and French Government issued a similar warning a few days later.
Major vulnerability across versions
On April 26, 2014, Microsoft issued a security advisory relating to CVE-2014-1776 (use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 through 11), a vulnerability that could allow 'remote code execution' in Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11. On April 28, 2014, the United States Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) released an advisory stating that the vulnerability could result in 'the complete compromise' of an affected system. US-CERT recommended reviewing Microsoft's suggestions to mitigate an attack or using an alternate browser until the bug is fixed. The UK National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UK) published an advisory announcing similar concerns and for users to take the additional step of ensuring their antivirus software is up-to-date.Symantec, a cyber security firm, confirmed that 'the vulnerability crashes Internet Explorer on Windows XP'. The vulnerability was resolved on May 1, 2014, with a security update.
Market adoption and usage share
The adoption rate of Internet Explorer seems to be closely related to that of Microsoft Windows, as it is the default web browser that comes with Windows. Since the integration of Internet Explorer 2.0 with Windows 95 OSR 1 in 1996, and especially after version 4.0's release in 1997, the adoption was greatly accelerated: from below 20% in 1996, to about 40% in 1998, and over 80% in 2000. This made Microsoft the winner in the infamous 'first browser war' against Netscape. Netscape Navigator was the dominant browser during 1995 and until 1997, but rapidly lost share to IE starting in 1998, and eventually slipped behind in 1999. The integration of IE with Windows led to a lawsuit by AOL, Netscape's owner, accusing Microsoft of unfair competition. The infamous case was eventually won by AOL but by then it was too late, as Internet Explorer had already become the dominant browser.
Internet Explorer peaked during 2002 and 2003, with about 95% share. Its first notable competitor after beating Netscape was Firefox from Mozilla, which itself was an offshoot from Netscape.
Firefox 1.0 had surpassed Internet Explorer 5 in early 2005, with Firefox 1.0 at roughly 8 percent market share.
Approximate usage over time based on various usage share counters averaged for the year overall, or for the fourth quarter, or for the last month in the year depending on availability of reference.
According to StatCounter Internet Explorer's marketshare fell below 50% in September 2010. In May 2012, Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer as the most used browser worldwide, according to StatCounter.
Browser Helper Objects are also used by many search engine companies and third parties for creating add-ons that access their services, such as search engine toolbars. Because of the use of COM, it is possible to embed web-browsing functionality in third-party applications. Hence, there are a number of Internet Explorer shells, and a number of content-centric applications like RealPlayer also use Internet Explorer's web browsing module for viewing web pages within the applications.
While a major upgrade of Internet Explorer can be uninstalled in a traditional way if the user has saved the original application files for installation, the matter of uninstalling the version of the browser that has shipped with an operating system remains a controversial one.
The idea of removing a stock install of Internet Explorer from a Windows system was proposed during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. case. One of Microsoft's arguments during the trial was that removing Internet Explorer from Windows may result in system instability. Indeed, programs that depend on libraries installed by IE, including Windows help and support system, fail to function without IE. Before Windows Vista, it was not possible to run Windows Update without IE because the service used ActiveX technology, which no other web browser supports.
Impersonation by malware
The popularity of Internet Explorer has led to the appearance of malware abusing its name. On January 28, 2011, a fake Internet Explorer browser calling itself 'Internet Explorer – Emergency Mode' appeared. It closely resembles the real Internet Explorer, but has fewer buttons and no search bar. If a user attempts to launch any other browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari or the real Internet Explorer, this browser will be loaded instead. It also displays a fake error message, claiming that the computer is infected with malware and Internet Explorer has entered 'Emergency Mode'. It blocks access to legitimate sites such as Google if the user tries to access them.
- ^Since version 10
- ^In version 6 and earlier
- ^In versions 7, 8, and 9
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The latest features and platform updates will only be available in Microsoft Edge. We will continue to deliver security updates to Internet Explorer 11 through its supported lifespan. To ensure consistent behavior across Windows versions, we will evaluate Internet Explorer 11 bugs for servicing on a case by case basis.
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There is talk about how we get more $'s from the 1000+ people we have working on browser related stuff...
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Compared with older versions of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Internet Explorer.|
|Wikinews has related news: France, Germany officials warn against using Internet Explorer|
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Internet Explorer|
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Welcome to the CNET 2019 directory of web hosting providers. In this directory, we'll look at a few of the best website hosting providers like Bluehost, Hostgator, A2Hosting, Hostinger, Dreamhost, InMotion Hosting, and more. In this evaluation, we're featuring commercial hosting providers who offer WordPress, Shared Hosting, VPS and many more hosting products and variety of monthly and annual plans.
Read more: The best website builders for 2019
Special Offer: Get started with A2 Hosting for $3.92 a month!
Let's look at each of the vendors below in a little more depth.
- Free SSD and Free SSL
- Free Domain Name
- 24/7 Support
- 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
If you're a WordPress user, Bluehost is definitely a provider to consider. While its managed WordPress hosting is a little more pricey than basic shared hosting, the company has both specific WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans available (along with management support). It also offers a site migration service for an additional fee.
The company got bonus points for its policy of performing regular daily backups, even on the lowest-priced shared hosting accounts. It lost points because its promotional price on the low-cost shared hosting does go up after the promotional period. That said, Bluehost also gained points for offering 24-7 phone support and SSH access for certain plans.
- Shared hosting starting at $2.75 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $5.95 /mo.
- Reseller hosting starting at $19.95 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $19.95 /mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $119 /mo.
- Cloud hosting starting at $4.95 /mo.
HostGator is a full-service hosting company, with plans for almost any need. Whether you're starting out and need a very basic shared site, or need to be able to operate your own machine dedicated solely to your company, HostGator has a service that can help.
We like how HostGator not only allows more sophisticated site builders to customize their dedicated or virtual server, but also to choose Linux or Windows hosting. While HostGator doesn't support SSDs on all plans, many of its servers can be equipped with the faster drives.
HostGator gained points for uptime monitoring and regular backups, along with free cPanel or Plesk. We liked that SSH is available for the more technically inclined site operators and that dedicated IP addresses could be purchased. We did take points off because it's sometimes difficult to tell what the price is once promotional plans run their course. That said, with a generous 45-day money back guarantee, there's a solution for almost everyone at HostGator.
- Shared hosting starting at $3.92/mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $3.92/mo.
- Reseller hosting starting at $13.19/mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $5/mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $99.59/mo.
A2 Hosting does a lot of things right. They offer Linux and Windows-based servers, SSD, caching, CDN, and SSL for all plans. While some plans offer uptime monitoring and regular backups, all plans offer malware scanning and automatic patching and updates.
The company offers a managed hosting service called HostGuard. Subscribers of this service have access to a 24/7/365 'Guru Crew' support team that manages network, hardware, software, and security. Managed hosting for WordPress customers begins at $11.99/mo, and for VPS customers at $32.99/mo.
The company offers solid plans with a good selection of features. The one area we're concerned about is how they present their offers. Like many hosting providers, their published pricing is a bit misleading. You're not getting hosting for $3.92/mo unless you pay nearly $150 for two years of service. Renewals are generally at a higher rate, although a salesperson we spoke to advised you ask for a 'loyalty discount.'
It shouldn't come as any surprise that, like other hosting providers, A2 Hosting's unlimited plans aren't actually unlimited. They expect you to use their service like 'similarly situated customers.' This is like being on a highway. If everyone is going a few miles above the speed limit, you're probably okay, but if you're barreling down the fast lane past everyone else, you're probably going to be asked to slow down.
The company offers a solid 30-day money back guarantee they call an 'Anytime' money back guarantee. Yeah...kind of. You can ask for your money back at any time, but after your first 30 days, how much you get back will depend on a painfully complex pro-rating system.
But, again, operationally they're quite strong. 24/7/365 support is available not only by chat and email, but by phone. They offer free site migrations with some dedicated attention paid to making a transfer as smooth as possible. And, if you're willing to go for one of the higher-end plans, the company has put some serious attention into performance and caching.
- Shared hosting starting at $0.80/mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $0.80/mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $3.95/mo.
- Cloud hosting starting at $7.45/mo.
Hostinger, a hosting provider based out of Lithuania, boasts it signs up a new client every five seconds. With 29 million users in 178 countries and subsidiaries in the US, Indonesia, and Brazil, the company has been in operation since 2004.
Hostinger has a nice selection of plans, all of which can be optimized for WordPress. We particularly liked that even the least expensive plans offered some level of SSH access for those who need it. The company gained points for its offering of SSD performance, dedicated IP, and regular backups for some plans.
What sets the company apart is their first-year hosting price of less than a buck a month. The company's least expensive plan is a startlingly-low 80 cents a month. This is the least expensive hosting program we've seen, although the price does go up after that first year. In fact, most of the company's plans increase after their promotional price expires.
Hostinger offers a 30-day money back guarantee with wording we wish more providers would use: 'If for any reason you decide not to continue with Hostinger, we will offer a full refund on your purchase, no questions asked.' If you have any
questions, the company has support chat lines available 24/7.
- Shared hosting starting at $3.95/mo
- WordPress hosting starting at $3.95/mo
- Reseller server starting at $3.50/mo
- Cloud hosting starting at $80.00/mo
SiteGround sits in the middle ground between a consumer web hosting provider and those who cater to enterprise solutions. If you've got a small business with more complex web needs than a typical small business, SiteGround is an ideal solution.
Although offerings start as low as $3.95 per month, we particularly like the company's GoGeek plan, which is chock full of useful features, including access to a staging server and one-click Git repo creation.
There's a lot to like about SiteGround, but the company did lose some points due to its policy of more than doubling your hosting costs after the first year. The company calls it a first-year discount, but that's in very tiny, light gray print.
On the plus side, SiteGround offers free automatic daily backups, access to the Cloudflare CDN, high-performance SSDs for all plans, unlimited email accounts, and integration of the free LetsEncrypt SSL certificate into sites. The company does limit bandwidth and storage, but even those who claim to offer so-called unlimited bandwidth and storage really have some limits in their terms of service.
Sadly, there is a bit of a 'gotcha' to the free automatic backup service. If you're paying $3.95 a month (for the first year of hosting, then $9.95 a month), you don't get restores for free. Each restore, no matter how small or large, will cost you $19.95. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the company has to pay salaries to tech support reps who can handle panicking customers. On the other hand, it seems kind of mean-spirited to hit someone when they're down with an added fee. That said, getting your data back – at any price – is priceless.
SiteGround is very proactive about protecting their customers' security. They have a dedicated security team that writes necessary patches and web firewall rules that help mitigate zero-day vulnerabilities. They also use an AI-based system to monitor and apply fixes to all their servers dynamically.
Finally, the company offers an entire tier of custom enterprise services. So, if you do GrowBig (as their mid-tier plan is named), you'll be able to stay with the company no matter how big you get.
- Shared hosting starting at $1.99 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $3.75 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $19.99 /mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $119.99 /mo.
Probably the first thing most folks will notice about iPage is the incredibly low price for shared hosting service. At less than two bucks a month for the 36-month plan, you can buy three full years of hosting for under $75, a jaw-dropping deal no matter how you look at it.
Yes, that price will go up after your 36 months are over, but can you blame them? The company does not claim to offer unlimited bandwidth, but low-end hosting plans generally don't require a tremendous amount of traffic capacity. If you do sustain a big surge, contact the company and they'll work with you.
The company now includes a bunch of freebies, even in their lowest-priced plans. They offer $100 in ad credits both for Google and Bing, along with free SiteLock web security.
We like how iPage offers 24-7 telephone support and a 30-day guarantee on top of its ridiculously low price. If you're on a budget and want to try out Web hosting, we haven't found a better starting price than what iPage is offering.
- Shared hosting starting at $2.59 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $2.59 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $15 /mo
- Dedicated servers starting at $149 /mo.
- Cloud hosting starting at $4.50 /mo.
Dreamhost holds a special place in my heart. The company, in addition to its commercial services, offers a free shared website to nonprofits. They provided a free website to a nonprofit I was affiliated with, which at the time, was a huge help for the cause. That offering is still available to 501(c)(3) nonprofits to this day.
Beyond that, Dreamhost is a 5-of-5 hosting company for many reasons. They operate their own control panel, which is convenient and easy to understand. While phone support isn't available 24-7, they are responsive to chat and tickets. The company uses superfast SSDs for all their storage, has a free SSL certificate (for more secured web browsing), and provides SSH access for those plans that are intended for more technical users.
There are two other factors that led to the nearly perfect score earned by Dreamhost. First, the company's pricing is pretty transparent. There are no hidden gotchas in the rates. Plus -- and this is the best we've seen across all our hosting providers -- Dreamhost provides a 97-day money back guarantee. There's quite literally zero risk in giving them a try.
- Shared hosting starting at $3.99 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $4.99 /mo.
- Reseller hosting starting at $13.99 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $19.99 /mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $99.99 /mo.
InMotion is our top-rated hosting providers. We particularly like that the company offers free backups and SSH access, even on their lower-end plans. WordPress support with integrated WP-CLI is also available.
Here are some of the reasons the company gets a top rating. They offer an all-SSD infrastructure. They have 24-7 telephone support in addition to the ticket/email/chat support options. They offer a basic site migration, in that they'll unpack a site saved from another cPanel instance. They offer free SSL and free malware detection.
Rounding out the wins, InMotion offers a full 90-day money-back guarantee. On top of that, here's a special money-saving hint. In a chat session confirming pricing and offerings, the operator offered me some special prices and deals that reduced the published price by a few bucks. I was also told that while promotional pricing does go up at the end of the offer period, if you contact customer service, InMotion has a 'loyal customer discount' that may bring the price back down.
- Shared starting at $1.95/mo.
- WordPresss starting at $2.48/mo.
- Reseller starting at $2.48/mo.
- VPS starting at $9.87/mo.
- Cloud starting at $19/mo.
As dedicated coffee fans, we love the name MochaHost. But if an inspired name was all the company had to offer, they wouldn't have earned a coveted 4.5 out of 5 rating. The only reason MochaHost didn't score a perfect 5-out-of-5 was because some of their lower plans don't include SSD storage.
The company has a wide range of offerings, but by far, the stand-out feature MochaHost provides is a 180-day money-back guarantee. That's the best we've seen so far, and it removed just about all of the risk from any hosting experience.
Overall, we were impressed with how customer-centric the company's offerings are. For example, unlike some of the hosting providers we've profiled (and deducted points from), MochaHost's published prices don't balloon once you've settled in with their service. They have a lifetime price-lock guarantee.
They got other customer-centric bonuses for 24/7 support, including 24/7 toll-free callback phone support, free domain name and SSL certificates for as long as you remain a MochaHost customer, a website builder with 500 free templates (and a service that will custom-design your site if you need), a site migration service. In addition, all plans are e-commerce ready and come with free shopping cart software.
For the more enterprise-oriented customers, they offer a full range of VPS and cloud hosting, along with serious Java Tomcat hosting, including shared and private JVMs, as well as Java VPS offerings. With a company named MochaHost, you'd expect some quality Java support and they have it. So brew yourself a cuppa, open a browser window, and give MochaHost a spin. You have half a year to make up your mind, so if it turns out MochaHost really isn't your cup of tea, they'll understand.
Web Hosting Hub
- Shared hosting starting at $4.99 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $4.99 /mo.
Web Hosting Hub has an entry-level starting price, but some surprisingly valuable benefits for such a low-price entrant.
In particular, Web Hosting Hub uses BoldGrid as a site builder. BoldGrid is actually an add-on to WordPress, so there's no lock-in. This overcomes the major problem of most site builders: you're locked into that host and that tool, often requiring you to completely rebuild your site if you want to expand. By using a WordPress-based solution, all of the rather considerable power of WordPress is available for future expansion.
We liked how Web Hosting Hub describes its new customer process. They tell new customers, 'We walk you through setting up your account in a personal on-boarding call.' The company has a few other wins as well. They offer an all-SSD infrastructure, automatic vulnerability patches and a custom firewall, SSH access for certain plans, free site migration and an excellent 90-day money-back guarantee.
Web Hosting Pad
- Shared hosting starting at $1.99 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $2.99 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $29.95 /mo.
Web Hosting Pad has a strong international presence. The company has servers in US, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Korea, and you can specify which server and location you want when you sign up.
In terms of what many vendors call unlimited service, Web Hosting Pad's terms of service indicate that their definition of unlimited is what they call 'incremental.' Basically, as you need more capability, they want to discuss that with you, both to help you get the most out of their services, and to make sure you're using their systems without abusing them.
The company's entry-point pricing is extremely low, and while this will buy you up to three years of very low-cost hosting, do be aware that its post-promotion price will increase substantially, putting its subsequent year pricing more in line with the rest of its competitors. That said, we liked its 24-7 phone support, SSD support on some plans, and 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Shared hosting starting at $3.95/mo.
- Reseller hosting starting at $19.95/mo.
- Cloud hosting starting at $44.95/mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $99/mo.
Established back in 1998, Lunarpages operates three state-of-the-art data centers. Equipped with multiple GigE fiber connections to the internet backbone, the company built out seismically-braced racks and cabinets, fully-redundant Liebert HVAC cooling systems, a diesel generator that can run for weeks, and a pre-action dry pipe fire suppression system.
All of this infrastructure has been built out to support the a wide range of hosting services. The family-owned company gains points for understanding the importance of transaction security by offering free AutoSSL and Let's Encrypt SSL encryption for its plans. While the company offers sophisticated services for technically strong clients, it also has a Weebly web builder option to get you up and running quickly.
Some plans offer SSD performance, and while there's no uptime monitoring provided, the company also gained a nod for its offering of both Linux and Windows plans.
For the technically-inclined, SSH access is available for a $2/mo upcharge, as is a dedicated IP address. The company allows for backup through its various dashboards and permits customers to build scripts to automate the backup process. While the company doesn't automatically perform malware scans, you can request one if desired.
- Standard plan starting at $29.95 /mo.
- Plus plan starting at $79.95 /mo.
- Pro plan starting at $249.95 /mo.
BigCommerce is a bit different from our other hosting plans in that it's a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider instead of an IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) provider. In other words, rather than renting space on a virtual machine where you setup and configure your own site, BigCommerce provides you with an app you login to that creates and online store.
So instead of worrying about servers and hosting applications, SSH and cPanel, you're going to be paying more attention to the business applications you can integrate with, the selling channels you use, and the products and inventory you spotlight.
The key benefit is that, out of the box, you are able to host securely, drive traffic, convert visitors, accept payments, and ship and fulfill orders. There's even an API so that if you do scale and need special integrations unique to your business, you can make it happen.
Service price varies a lot. There are really two factors: how much you pay per transaction and the features offered. All plans charge $0.30 per transaction plus a percentage.
At the lowest end, you'll be paying 2.9 percent of the amount you charge. Bumping up to the Plus plan gets you a lowered 2.5 percent of the transaction fee and adds Google customer reviews, the ability for customers to filter their product searches, and custom SSL (a security certificate you may have already purchased).
The Pro plan is costly, but you get a lot. First, you share considerably less of each transaction's cost, down to 2.2 percent. Then, on top of the Plus plan features, you get even more customized filtering, price lists, unlimited API calls, can have sales up to $400K per month, and get premium account services.
If your hosting needs lean towards setting up an online store first and foremost, give BigCommerce a look.
- Shared hosting starting at $3.95 /mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $3.95 /mo.
- Reseller hosting starting at $19.95 /mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $39.95 /mo.
- Dedicated servers starting at $160 /mo.
If you've ever been worried about the tremendous amount of power large data centers consume, you might want to sign up with Green Geeks. The 'green' in the company's name reflects the Green Geeks' commitment to the environment. It purchases three times the energy it actually uses in wind energy credits, essentially putting energy back into the economy. The company does this through a form of renewable energy certificates, which, while a bit complicated, means that it's not just energy neutral, i's actually helping fuel the green energy economy.
Just because it's green doesn't mean it limits your power to do what you need with your websites. Rather surprisingly, its low-end account provides both SSH and WP-CLI (useful for automated WordPress deployments) access, along with Git preinstalled. It's also possible to customize PHP and PHP.INI, a capability unheard of on a low-end plan.
The company gained additional points for its all-SSD infrastructure, 24-7 phone support, 30-day money-back guarantee, free site migration and malware detection. The only concern we had is that after your discounted purchase period expires, basic shared hosting jumps to $9.95 per month.
- Shared hosting starting at/mo $4.95
- Reseller hosting starting at/mo $24.95
- Elastic Sites hosting starting at/mo $13.49
- Semi-dedicated servers starting at/mo $49.99
- Managed dedicated servers starting at/mo $129.00
- Cloud VPS hosting starting at/mo $79.00
- Enterprise cloud hosting starting at/mo $199.00
GlowHost offers a wide variety of plans for those with very different hosting needs. We were particularly impressed with their media hosting plans, which include offerings for FFmpeg, SHOUTcast, and podcast hosting.
The company doesn't list a virtual private server offering, but they bill their Elastic Sites service as a VPS alternative, offering the ease of use of a simple shared hosting plan and the performance and scalability of a VPS. GlowHost also offers a number of different cloud hosting plans, with special attention to providing enterprise-grade services.
GlowHost picked up major points for their 91-day money-back guarantee. They were six days short of DreamHost's 97-day guarantee, but with these numbers, who's quibbling over a few days? The company also picked up points for their 24/7/365 phone support option and free cPanel offering for most plans. The company operates 18 datacenters worldwide. Finally, the company gains major points by driving all its hosting services with wind power.
- Shared hosting starting at $1/mo.
- WordPress hosting starting at $1/mo.
- VPS hosting starting at $5/mo.
- Dedicated server starting at $70/mo.
- Cloud hosting starting at $10/mo.
1&1 IONOS provides a wide range of hosting services, along with a full e-commerce stack, domain name registration, Office 365 solutions, and online marketing programs.
The company also offers higher-end Windows and Linux servers, available with Plesk and cPanel respectively. We were very intrigued to see that the company offers low-end Atom-based dedicated servers as well as the more traditional Xeon-based machines. One great resource for those doing some basic experimentation, or site development, is that they have a free, three-month trial for one of their lightly-equipped Atom servers.
The company does loose some points for its hefty price increase after the first year for most plans, although we do commend 1&1 for making that price increase clear, visible, and easy to understand on their site.
At the very bottom of their home page is a link called 'show fineprints.' Clicking it expands out a list of details on the restrictions and renewal pricing for many of their promotions. We liked that this level of detail was easily available to consumers.
Good phone, email, and chat tech support, along with SSD-based hosting for faster performance, and a free SSL certificate round out the offerings, and earn 1&1 Hosting it's well-deserved 4.6 out of five.
When shopping for a hosting service, keep a few things in mind.
Big price jump after promo period
Many services offer a low 'starting price,' but require you to prepay for two or three years of service to get that price. After the promotional period, the renewal price for some services can be two, three, or even four times the initial promotional pricing. While the initial deal might be incredible, the cost of transferring your site (or paying the added fee) in a couple of years may be something to consider.
What 'unlimited' really means
Many services offer so-called unlimited or unmetered service for whatever amount of bandwidth, disk storage and sites you use. It's important to understand that most terms of service actually do limit the definition of 'unlimited' to what's considered reasonable use. The bottom line is simple: if you're building a pretty basic website, unlimited means you don't need to worry. But if you're trying to do something excessive (or illegal, immoral or fattening), the fine print in the terms of service will trigger, and you'll either be asked to spend more or go elsewhere.
Watch out for page builders
Almost all the services offer some sort of page builder that makes it easy to drag and drop to build your page. These are great for getting started, but they often lock you into the service. Most page builders are proprietary to the service, or don't create HTML that's portable enough to be easily moved to another service if you decide it's necessary.
Migration services are great, mostly
Migration or transfer services are often free or offered at a reasonable fee. These services help move your existing site to the new hosting provider. They can save a huge amount of hassle. Just remember that the migration process is often automated, and may fit in with the host's processes and needs rather than yours. Not everything may migrate, and you may find the organization of the newly migrated site makes for harder maintenance in the long run.
Keep those concepts in mind as you shop for a hosting service. Our hosting service rankings are based on nearly 40 factors including quality of support, guarantee, availability of security services, performance architecture, and promotional pricing.
More information about website hosting
You may also find other hosting services more appropriate depending on your needs. Hosting services such as cloud hosting, e-commerce hosting, reseller hosting and WordPress hosting are providing customers with a lot of flexibility.
Cloud hostingis a great option if you want to make sure you have a lot of storage space and allows you to utilize cloud computing to do so. There are many advantages to selecting cloud hosting, such as guaranteed server resources, redundant data storage and unlimited website growth.
E-commerce hostingis a popular option for many online businesses. In addition to providing customers with ecommerce functionality, many web-hosting service providers are also capable of providing you with a web server to host your website, along with an email server and other standard web-hosting features.
Reseller hostingis ideal for users who are interested in using his or her allotted hard drive space and bandwidth to host websites on behalf of third-parties. To do this, the reseller will need to purchase the host's services wholesale and then sell them to customers separately for a potential profit at retail prices.
WordPress hostingis an ideal platform for customers who are interested in creating a custom-built website. WordPress is popular among customers because it lets you build a professional custom website using a variety of templates, plug-ins and widgets.
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What about after picking a provider?
Once you choose your provider, it's time for you to open an account with the monthly plan that fits your needs. If you still have questions about which plan is suitable for you, call their customer support staff and have them assist you through the registration process. Companies will generally charge a credit card on a monthly basis, however, some companies will also offer discounts for paying a yearly payment at once.
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After selecting a provider, it's highly recommended that you test your internet speed to ensure that the data is being processed in a timely manner. You can take the Internet Speed Testto instantly assess your current Upload and Download internet speeds.
How to speed up your website? Finding the fastest hosting provider?
People often think that a web host is the main cause of a slow website but, this is often not the case. When picking a provider, it's important for find a hosting provider that is close to your users and has a good amount of RAM and fast CPU power. Beyond that, it's often the way the website is set up that slows it down for users. To ensure that your website speed is optimal for users you need to make sure you pay attention to the following:
- Minimize HTTP requests to the server. This means that we limit the amount of request that are required to download the page
- Enable server caching. WIth server caching, after content has been download, the content is stored locally to allow faster access of the content and a reduction of strain on your web server.
- Enable compression of larger files. Compression reduces the bandwidth of your files, resulting in a lower HTTP response.
- Remove code bloat. Remove any unnecessary code or plugins.
- Optimize images. This will reduce overall page size.
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There are many other ways to increase website speed but, these are the items that will have the biggest impact.
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