Offers Linux- or Windows-based servers. Excellent VPS and dedicated hosting plans. Prorated VPS plans. High-end specs.
Lacks shared hosting plans. Relatively expensive.
- Bottom Line
Liquid Web is expensive and lacks shared Web hosting, but it's a flexible, feature-packed online host with outstanding customer service and excellent dedicated and VPS packages.
Big businesses require robust web hosting services to maintain their online presences, and Liquid Web is one that many of the largest brands trust. The company has a range of WordPress, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated server packages with enough flexibility and muscle to power the likes of Eddie Bauer, ESPN, National Geographic, Porsche, and Symantec. In fact, Liquid Web is our Editors' Choice for enterprise-level web hosting. Be prepared to pay premium prices for this premium service, however, and forget about the cheaper shared hosting tier of service: Liquid Web doesn't offer it. Smaller businesses may prefer PCMag's overall favorite web hosts, DreamHost. HostGator, and Hostwinds, which offer more affordably priced packages that include shared hosting plans.
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No Shared Web Hosting
Liquid Web does not offer shared web hosting (which is generally used by individuals and the smallest of businesses), so if you want to dabble in that hosting category, you must look elsewhere. I recommend HostGator, the PCMag Editors' Choice for shared web hosting services. HostGator offers Linux- or Windows-based based shared hosting packages that give small- and medium-size business room to grow (starting at $3.95 per month).
Dedicated Web Hosting
If you're looking to build your website on the strongest possible foundation, however, you'll want to check out Liquid Web's dedicated server offerings. They come in a variety of configurations, ranging from a single processor (starting at $199 per month) to a high end, dual-core processor (starting at $859 per month). Clearly, Liquid Web's dedicated servers are aimed at businesses that want sharp website performance and that have the money to spend on it.
Liquid Web's well-rounded, enterprise-level dedicated server packages outclass Hostwinds' excellent, SMB-friendly plans. That said, the price and spec differences between the two are so large that Hostwinds remains the Editors' Choice for dedicated web hosting for personal use and SMBs. Hostwinds offers a choice of Linux- or Windows-based servers, up to 128GB of RAM, and unlimited monthly data transfers.
VPS Web Hosting
If you want a server with significant power, but without the high dedicated-server pricetag, check out Liquid Web's VPS servers. Unlike many other VPS services I reviewed, Liquid Web only charges for the number of days you use the service per month, which comes in handy if you decided to cancel your account.
The low-end Storm VPS plan (starting at $59 per month) includes 2GB of RAM, 0GB of solid-state drive storage, 5TB of monthly data transfers, unlimited domains, and unlimited email. On the other end of the spectrum, Liquid Web's high-end option (starting at $219 per month) ups the ante by including 256GB of RAM, 1.6TB of storage, and the option to use either Linux- or Windows-based servers. You can also contact Liquid Web if you want to spec out a more powerful server.
Liquid Web's RAM and storage totals are the best we've seen of the VPS services that we reviewed, for their price point. That's a big qualifier, however, given Liquid Web's prices. Hostwinds is the Editors' Choice for VPS service for the SMBs that are our main audience, but if you're shopping for enterprise-level hosting, Liquid Web is definitely worth checking out. In fact, Hostwinds offers unlimited monthly data transfer across the board.
WordPress Web Hosting
Liquid Web also offers three tiers of managed WordPress web hosting, starting at $119 per month for 5TB of monthly data transfers, 10 domains, and a 100GB solid-state drive. As with other managed WordPress hosts, Liquid Web has one-click installs, automatic updates, and access to hundreds of apps and WordPress plug-ins courtesy of its Fantastico library.
Liquid Web's managed hosting environment is specifically designed for installing WordPress and associated plug-ins. In fact, you don't have to install the CMS at all, as it comes preinstalled. Once you're logged into WordPress, you can create posts, pages, and galleries as you would with any other self-hosted WordPress site. I quickly created a rudimentary page that got the job done.
The WordPress installation's back end contains several themes you can apply to your site to give it an attractive look or extra functionality. You can, of course, use a theme that was purchased elsewhere.
Still, 1&1 remains the PCMag Editors' Choice for managed WordPress hosting. The web host has three managed WordPress packages: WP Basic ($6.99 per month), WP Plus ($9.99 per month), and WP Unlimited ($14.99 per month).
WP Basic offers 50GB of storage, unlimited visitors, and one free domain. WP Plus tosses in 250GB of storage and the ability to host five WordPress projects. WP Unlimited, the most feature-packed of the three options, boasts unlimited WordPress projects. All the plans have unlimited email, automatic malware detection and removal, automatic WordPress updates, and a curated list of recommended WordPress plug-ins and themes.
Want Security? Liquid Web's got you covered. The company offers firewalls, SSL, virtual private networks (VPN), malware scanning and removal, and much more.
Some features come bundled with specific packages, while others you'll need to purchase as add-ons. Liquid Web has free nightly backups, too, which will safeguard you should your site suffer massive damage.
Excellent Customer Service
Liquid Web boasts of its excellent Heroic Support customer service team, a squad of knowledgeable people who assist you in under a minute if you reach out by phone, under 30 minutes if you submit a help desk ticket, and under 59 seconds if you reach out by chat. Sounds good, yes? It is.
I fired up the web chat on a weekday afternoon to ask a representative about how to import my WordPress.com setup into Liquid Web. A rep came to my aid seconds later and gave me a friendly, thorough explanation. I was impressed with the speed and thoroughness of the response.
Since Liquid Web is pricey, it's good that the service's plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is usual in the web hosting industry. Still, considering the amount of money that a company is likely to spend for Liquid Web hosting, it would be nice to see a larger refund window. For example, DreamHost has an impressive 97-day money-back guarantee.
Expensive, but Powerful
Without question, Liquid Web is one of the most-powerful web hosts PCMag has reviewed, and it's a clear Editors' Choice for enterprise-level web hosting. It has numerous packages with absolutely stacked specs—specs that will cost you a pretty penny. Liquid Web may not have shared hosting packages, but the company's excellent dedicated and VPS hosting are enough to place it among the web hosting elite.
That's not to say that DreamHost, HostGator, or Hostwinds are irrelevant—far from it. They remain Editors' Choice overall award-winners for those who need more wallet-friendly web hosting options. Still, if your business requires truly high-end web hosting, Liquid Web will do the job, and do the job quite well.
By Jeffrey L. Wilson Senior Analyst, Software
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out Web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey mentors, practices Jeet Kune Do, blogs, podcasts, and speaks at the occasional con. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys… More »
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