On this list, you’ll find the 4 best Windows hosting options tested as well as some pointers to help you choose the right one.
Hosting options for websites come in 2 flavors: Windows and Linux. While Linux is a much more task-oriented operating system for servers, Windows is no slouch in this department either. Although not as popular.
The benefit of using Windows as the server OS is the ease of use. Most of you have probably grown up using Windows on computers and already know how it works. It uses the same graphical interface here, on the server, as well.
But the enthusiasm of seeing a familiar interface can quickly dry up. While Linux is free, Windows is a paid option that adds up to the costs.
Why would you pay significantly more just for the ease of use?
The answer is one. Microsoft-specific technology such as ASP.NET, SQL Server, and Active Directory are examples. These software suites are built and owned by Microsoft, and they don’t run on Linux server architecture. If you’re going to use one of these software suites in your website/app development, you don’t have a choice but to spring for Windows hosting.
There are a few other benefits that Windows hosting offers, including consistent security updates and support for most of the technologies that Linux offers, albeit implemented on a Windows codebase.
At the same time, Windows hosts are few, not to mention good ones. So for this list, I tested and compared the available options. Only 4 were left standing – the most reliable options for all budgets.
Best Windows hosting: ranked
- HostGator – best Windows server hosting overall
- LiquidWeb – best Windows hosting for mission-critical projects
- InterServer – flexible ASP.NET hosting solution
- GoDaddy – Windows hosting for personal use
Need some help on how to pick? There’s a guide down below to help you out.
|Features||Free SSL, Windows 2016, Plesk control panel|
|Best for||Beginner-friendly option to get to know Windows server hosting|
HostGator is a recognizable web hosting company with a pretty solid reputation in the field. Naturally, its Windows hosting options are also very competitive. The provider is among the most affordable options for those who are looking for the best ASP.NET hosting.
The provider offers some of the best value-to-money proportions by offering all-inclusive shared Windows hosting plans. It includes:
- Plesk control panel, which is the standard for Windows hosting in the same way that cPanel is the standard for Linux operations.
- Windows Server 2016 OS is already included, which keeps your expenses low. Many other hosts require you to purchase an OS as an extra.
- Support for the majority of programming languages and scripts, including ASP, ASP.NET 2.0 (3.5, 4.0, & 4.7), PHP, SSICurl, GD Library, MVC 5.0, & AJAX.
Basically, HostGator is the best Windows hosting option to start developing ASP.NET sites and apps, as well as other Windows-based applications. At affordable rates too.
HostGator has 2 Windows hosting plans: Personal starts at $4.76/mo, while Enterprise is $14.36/mo.
Both plans offer unlimited storage, bandwidth, as well as databases, so the actual resources are not very clear. There are a couple of differences though:
- Personal only allows hosting 1 website/application.
- Enterprise can host 5 websites/applications, and it also adds a dedicated IP (worth $4/mo).
The renewal prices are just around 15% higher, so even after the first term ends, the cost of hosting will remain affordable. Plus, you have 45-days to get your money back.
Overall, HostGator prices and features make it a good option for Windows hosting beginners. Choose Personal for learning purposes while Enterprise can be used for businesses too.
Check HostGator Pricing Now
HostGator Windows server performance
HostGator Windows server performance is quite average, as expected for shared hosting.
The uptime remained at 100%, which is an exceptional result to start with.
At the same time, the average response time of 673 ms is not ideal. It’s a bit of a delay in loading your website or app. What’s more, the peak of 2 seconds wasn’t good either.
This leads me to conclude that while reliable, HostGator is best for personal/smaller projects that don’t rely on speed entirely.
Altogether, HostGator is an affordable and well-equipped Windows hosting option. The performance, while on the slower side, is very reliable, and the platform is easy to use.
- Flexible, easy-to-use control panel Plesk
- Windows OS included in the price
- Unlimited databases
- Unclear storage and bandwidth limits
2. Liquid Web
|Features||Fully managed VPS, Windows 2019, MSSQL 2019 Express, ESET antivirus|
|Best for||Reliable managed VPS to host commercial projects|
Liquid Web specializes in managed VPS hosting with a focus on security and reliability. While they have a reputation for being a bit pricey, you get what you pay for. It’s an all-included premium option for mission-critical Windows products.
Liquid Web, when it comes to Windows plans, is a high-end solution with a set of very expensive perks:
- Plesk control panel is included for ease of use and top-level functionality.
- Windows Server 2019 and MSSQL 2019 Express are in the package as well. These are among the latest versions of Windows OS and database available.
- ESET antivirus is counted in for protection which is especially important for Windows-based software.
These features alone make Liquid Web a very attractive Windows and ASP.NET hosting option. And while prices are high, introductory discounts make them less scary.
Liquid Web has 3 pre-packaged Windows hosting plans starting at $54/mo. You can go up to $135/mo initially and scale as needed with 2-year subscriptions.
All plans will have a control panel, full server management, OS and database licenses, antivirus, 10TB of bandwidth, snapshots, and multi-layer security features.
- 4GB RAM ($54/mo) comes with 100GB storage and 4 CPUs.
- 8GB RAM ($74/mo) comes with 150GB storage and 8 CPUs.
- 16GB RAM ($135/mo) comes with 200GB storage and 8CPUs.
The bandwidth and features make even the cheapest plan fit for popular apps and websites. So it all depends on the size and server power that you need. Additionally, for an extra $25-35/mo, you can pick bundles with a business email service, additional security, and 100GB backup storage.
An interesting fact is that Liquid Web guarantees (on a written agreement) to answer all live chat and phone inquiries in 59 seconds. Meanwhile, ticket support has guaranteed response rates of 59 minutes. This is especially important if you have a commercial project where every minute means business.
Support might be great, but not the money-back policy. Liquid Web simply doesn’t have one. So it’s the courtesy of the billing team to decide whether to refund for unused service time or not if you decide to cancel.
So while Liquid Web is a premium option, it’s very much worth it for mission-critical projects. With our link, you’ll get the best discount. I advise picking the cheapest plan with a 2-year subscription (to postpone higher renewal) and scaling as needed.
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Liquid Web Windows server performance
Liquid Web demonstrated great performance results. And while the 100% uptime guarantee was slightly breached, I cannot complain.
Liquid Web had 2 outages and a total of 3 minutes of downtime. This is 99.99% uptime, which means that the provider missed its guarantee of 100%. At the same time, maintenance is not included in the SLA (service level agreement), so I cannot complain about such minimal downtime.
The average response time of 419ms is very good. Plus, it remained very stable, without any high peaks, showing Liquid Web’s reliability.
So in terms of performance, Liquid Web definitely meets the high expectations that were dictated by the price.
All in all, choose Liquid Web if you have a mission-critical project on the way. It will be the best fit for businesses developing web-based apps and heavy Windows-based sites.
- Managed Windows VPS service
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Windows OS, MSSQL, and Plesk included
- Premium-level prices
|Features||Free SSL, Plesk control panel, monthly billing|
|Best for||Flexible hosting for all kinds of needs|
InterServer is the only host on this list to offer such flexible services. It has both affordable ASP.NET hosting on shared servers and scalable Windows hosting on VPS infrastructure. Plus, the prices are some of the lowest you’ll find.
ASP.NET hosting is more of a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s 1 plan priced at $8/mo for as long as you need. It includes:
- Plesk control panel is included.
- Support for Classic ASP, NET Framework 3.5, 4.7, & 4.8, .NET core 2.2.8, & 3.1.3, Silverlight, Microsoft Access, ODBC, and APS.NET MVX 4,5,6.
- Unlimited storage, domains, email accounts, and databases.
It’s a good option for smaller ASP.NET projects. Plus, pricing is very transparent. No matter if you want it for 1 month or 10 years – it’s the same $8/mo.
Meanwhile, Windows VPS is a bit more advanced:
- You get full admin access and control over the server instance.
- You can choose from Windows Server 2019, 2016, and 10.
- The service is unmanaged, so all configurations fall into your own hands. At the same time, control panels, such as Plesk, have to be purchased separately.
The pricing is also very transparent and based on slices. 1 slice is 1CPU 2GB RAM, 30GB SSD, and 2TB bandwidth for $10/mo. Double the price – resources will double as well.
The only negative about InterServer is customer support. While they will solve your issues, the interactions are less than pleasant. Also, keep in mind that pricing is based on a monthly basis, so refunds are not available.
Overall, InterServer has options both for beginners – that’s ASP.NET hosting for $8/mo and advanced Windows VPS hosting for mission-critical projects starting at an affordable $10/mo.
Check InterServer Pricing Now
InterServer Windows hosting performance
I’ve monitored InterServer Windows hosting performance on shared servers, and it turned out to be pretty average.
InterServer had 6 micro outages – a total of 7 minutes of downtime. This is a very respectable 99.99% uptime result.
Meanwhile, the average response time was 621ms. That’s over the shared hosting market average that’s 600ms.
So as expected, shared ASP.NET hosting plans are best for smaller projects as well as getting to know the Windows hosting scene. Meanwhile, you can expect a better performance by picking Windows VPS.
Altogether, InterServer is the most flexible Windows hosting option you’ll find. It has various options for both beginners and pros, personal use, and businesses. At affordable prices too.
- Several Windows server hosting options
- Affordable and flexible prices
- Full admin access available
- Free automated backups
- Customer support is not great
- Higher server response times
|Features||Shared ASP.NET hosting, Plesk control panel, DDoS protection|
|Best for||Affordable Windows hosting for personal use|
GoDaddy is among the largest and best-known providers that primarily focus on domain name services. However, among many of its services, you’ll find ASP.NET hosting. The provider takes the “all-included” approach and bundles Windows hosting on shared servers.
First of all, to find GoDaddy’s Windows hosting plans, head to Websites & Stores on the upper menu > All web hosting options > Web hosting – ASP.NET.
Now, with this out of the way, we can talk. So what does GoDaddy include?
- Windows® Server 2012 R2 OS, which is an older, yet reliable version.
- 24/7 security monitoring and DDoS protection, which is a great addition to protect your project.
- Plesk control panel for easy management.
- Support for Classic ASP, ASP.NET AJAX, CGI, ASP.NET MVC3, NET Core. Unfortunately, Silverlight 4 and Silverlight 5 hosting is not available on any of the plans.
So looking at the features, GoDaddy’s Windows hosting is pretty well equipped but supported software and OS are a bit outdated. Sure, they work, but it’s best to keep them for personal use.
And for personal use, GoDaddy is perfect, thanks to cheap prices.
GoDaddy has 4 ASP.NET hosting plans: Economy starting at $5.99/mo, Deluxe at $7.99/mo, and Ultimate at $12.99/mo. That’s almost the price of regular shared hosting.
All of the plans come with a free domain, server security, Windows OS, and control panel.
- Economy can host 1 website with 100GB storage and includes 1 MSSQL database with 200GB.
- Deluxe can host unlimited sites on unlimited storage, but MSSQL databases are limited to 5 x 200GB.
- Ultimate adds free SSL for a year and unlimited MSSQL databases (200GB).
Apart from shared hosting, dedicated and VPS hosting plans support Windows as well. So scalability options are there. Just keep in mind that they will require you to pay for Windows and the control panel separately.
Another thing to consider is the refund policy. Yearly and longer plans have a 30-day money-back term, while shorter – 48h to claim your money back.
Altogether, GoDaddy’s shared Windows hosting is a great option if you’d like to learn to develop in ASP.NET environments. It’s cheap and easy to use.
Check GoDaddy Pricing Now
GoDaddy Windows hosting performance
While GoDaddy was among the speediest hosts, it did have the most downtime.
During 2 months of monitoring, GoDaddy was down for 57 minutes. That’s 41 minor outages that resulted in 99.92% uptime. It’s better than the guaranteed 99.9%, yet not amazing compared to the competitors.
The average response time (415ms) was great. It wasn’t a flat line, but even with the maximum 641ms, GoDaddy was fast.
These results were achieved on a shared server, so there’s little surprise about the downtime. However, speed is pretty impressive.
To conclude, GoDaddy is among the best options for Windows hosting. However, keep its shared hosting for personal stuff – the software is less than optimal though very good for the price.
- Affordable Windows hosting prices
- All essentials included
- Good server response times
- Free SSL is not included
- Older OS version
Best Windows hosting: final recommendations
While the choice of the best Windows hosting providers is pretty limited, each of the hosts we tested has something that might be perfect for your project. So let’s quickly recap the strengths and best uses for each:
- HostGator is beginner-friendly, reliable, and offers excellent value for money, thanks to all essentials being included. Hosted on shared servers, it’s best for smaller projects.
- Liquid Web offers the best Windows hosting option for commercial use. It’s highly reliable, fully-managed VPS options with many safeguards to keep your project online and secure at all times.
- InterServer is scalable, flexible, and adaptable, making it ideal for most users. You can pick both shared ASP.NET hosting and Windows VPS, so there’s an option for all. At affordable rates too.
- GoDaddy has good prices and all-inclusive plans mainly on shared servers. This is a great option for personal use, while VPS and dedicated options are available to businesses.
Generally, there’s no one-size-fits-all hosting solution. Each website has its own needs. It’s up to you to determine which one of these Windows hosting providers fits the bill. What sort of technologies do you need? Do you require full access to the server? What kind of bandwidth will your website command once it goes live?
Each of these hosting companies offers plans that vary by price and functionality. If your website looks like it may expand, your hosting provider also needs to adapt to that need. Trying to determine “the best” Windows hosting relies on figuring out which one is “the best” for your website.
How to choose the best Windows hosting provider?
In essence, choosing the best windows hosting provider requires you to assess the needs of your website and compare them to what hosting providers offer. Once you locate a good match, it’s just a matter of signing up.
We can separate the choice of a windows hosting provider into 2 major steps:
- Firstly, you need to figure out what you need from your hosting provider. This decision takes into account the technologies, server uptime, the current and future needs of your company, the security model they offer, and what sort of performance their servers have compared to the company’s location.
- The second point of concern is with the hosting company itself. This consideration includes their customer service record, what other customers think about their service, the price of their plans, and what value each of those plans represents.
Finally, you have to compare your own needs to what the company offers to see if there’s a fit there or if you should move on to the next possible hosting provider.
Step 1: Assess project needs
What does your website need from its Windows hosting provider? For you to determine this, you need to have some ballpark figures for your potential traffic and required storage space. If you’re intending to run applications from your server, you’d need to get an idea of what Windows-based technologies those applications will need. Finally, you’ll need to figure out what sort of processing power you’ll need on the server to get the kind of performance you’re looking for.
Here are a couple of points to consider:
- Is it a website or an app? Websites survive on lower levels of resources such as storage and RAM. Shared ASP.NET hosting can fit you. Meanwhile, if you implement app functionalities, resource usage can get out of hand. Especially if you receive lots of popularity – look at Windows VPS options.
- What technology will you use? There are many frameworks and modules available, so don’t forget to check if your required one is on the provider’s feature list.
- Performance. Personal non-commercial stuff doesn’t need to load at lightspeed. Cheaper shared hosting plans are fine there. Look at HostGator, InterServer, and GoDaddy. Meanwhile, apps and websites for business are expected to be fast and 100% online. That’s the job for providers such as Liquid Web.
- Beginner or pro? Managed or unmanaged? Managed hosting leaves the responsibility for maintaining the server in the hands of the hosting company. Unmanaged Windows servers are for technically adept owners that can set up servers and troubleshoot the most common issues themselves. If the hosting company has a robust knowledge base, this isn’t too much of a problem. Unmanaged servers usually cost a lot less and may offer you more freedom in how you manage your system resources. They are, however, more labor-intensive to maintain and require some understanding of how Windows servers function.
- Control panel. Windows interfaces are GUI-based, making it a lot easier than the command-line approach that Linux takes. But to reach it, you need a control panel. Some hosting companies offer proprietary control panels. These may be significantly more complicated than Plesk (the de-facto industry standard for Windows hosting) to interact with. Less experienced admins may want to consider a host that offers Plesk as part of their hosting package. Even so, some proprietary control panels are just as easy to use.
Step 2: Assess the hosting provider
Even though there are only a handful of Windows hosting companies available, you still need to figure out which one offers the best value for money among them.
- The amount and cost of the packages are usually the first comparison point. A lot of companies offer cheaper first-year hosting, but in the fine print, you realize that the following years become more expensive. Some companies also vary the number of perks you get with your hosting package, with some add-ons included for free in their plans. Whether it’s an upselling tactic or not depends on whether the renewal price is a lot more than their initial introductory offerings.
- Another of the more important considerations that you should have when deciding on a particular hosting provider is whether they have excellent customer support. Communicating with the provider for support and assistance is likely to happen more often than you’d assume. Customer support agents should be knowledgeable enough to help solve your problems. Fortunately, a lot of serving providers have top-notch customer support, making it a simple matter to get any issues you have sorted out quickly.
- Server performance and accessibility is also a significant concern. Processing power is essential, but most hosting servers can support thousands of users, so you’re not usually going to have to worry about it that much. Response time and uptime are critical elements of a proper Windows hosting provider. If the provider lags in any of these departments, it needs to make up for it in the others.
General hosting considerations
Now that you’ve gotten the most critical elements of hosting out of the way and you’ve narrowed the field somewhat, you can start focusing on the little extras that these companies offer. For a professional website, a few critical add-ons stand out as necessary, among the other considerations. These include:
- Refund policy: After signing up with a hosting provider, you might become disenchanted with their service. In these kinds of situations, it should be easy to request a refund and find another company. Businesses that don’t offer money-back guarantees are ones that clients should be extremely wary of.
- Site backups: To ensure that you have a reliable site, your provider should provide a backup schedule. This qualification may only apply to managed hosting, however. If you decide to opt for an unmanaged solution, you may need to set up a backup schedule yourself. In this case, the provider should have a robust knowledge base to enable you to do just that.
- Server features: This includes applying for an SSL certificate as well as what level of access the provider allows you to the server. Some applications may need more server permissions than others. Managed servers rarely give full admin access, so you might need to look at unmanaged options to get full control of the server.
- Server location options: Some providers have different geographical locations for hosting your project. This is useful as you can pick a server location that’s close to your audience – this reduces latency and load times.
Best Windows hosting FAQs
Do I need to use Windows web hosting?
You might need to use Windows web hosting if you’re planning to use Microsoft-specific technology for development. That includes ASP.NET, the use of MSSQL or MS Access database.
Is Linux better than Windows hosting?
It’s not possible to say that Linux is better than Windows. While Linux is by far the more used option, Windows has unique uses that are not possible with another server OS.
What is the cheapest Windows hosting provider?
From my research, HostGator is currently the cheapest Windows hosting provider, with prices starting at $4.76/mo. Not only is it cheap, but includes all essentials to be able to work on your project from the moment you sign up.
Do I need specific knowledge to use Windows hosting?
Using Windows hosting is similar to using Windows computers, so there’s no huge learning curve. At the same time, developing does require specific knowledge and you might need to get used to a Plesk or similar control panel.
What’s the difference between Linux hosting and Windows hosting?
Most of the things that website owners require, they can accomplish with both Windows or Linux. Windows is a necessity for applications developed to run on a Windows server and using Microsoft-specific modules. Linux servers are the industry standard used for the majority of technologies.