WordPress Hosting

Finding good hosting for your WordPress website will be easier if you’re realistic about your needs.  If you’re planning a new website and don’t expect to get thousands of visitors a day, you don’t need to pay a fortune for hosting. You want something a lot less expensive. Of course, if you’re already online and clocking a thousand visitors a day, you need something else again.

Building your website

Some people build their websites online, in-place, while others prefer to do it offline, on their home pc. You won’t want your site visible to Google or other people while it’s under construction, so you may just as well build it offline and save yourself the expense of paying for hosting.

WordPress needs a server in order to function, but you can easily create one on your home PC with free software. If you build your site at home you can easily transfer it to your web hosting with the help of plugins like ‘UpdraftPlus‘ or ‘BackupBuddy‘. Having a local (home) version also allows you to test new plugins and layouts without disrupting a live website.

These are the most popular programs used for setting up a WordPress-capable server at home:

XAMPP – Apache + MariaDB + PHP + Perl
MAMP and MAMP Pro – Apache, PHP, MySQL on OS X

In general, if you’re using Windows or Linux, Xampp is the better choice, whereas Mamp is said to be better on a Mac – we don’t use Macs so we can’t offer an opinion here.

home-install

Looking for a Host

Before you start looking for WordPress hosting you need to have a little information at hand. For example, how much traffic do you expect to receive on your site? Are you able to manage your hosting or do you want a managed service? Do you plan to use a CDN? Will you be using email, and if so how will it be managed? How much can you afford?

It helps if you know in advance where your target audience is located. Where possible, your hosting should be located in the same area as your main audience. If you’re building a website aimed at people living in the UK, for example, find a host in the UK or at least Europe. If your audience is likely to be people living on the east coast of the USA, your hosting wants to be on the east coast too. The further away a website is hosted from a visitor, the slower it will be. Slow will cost you visitors and Google ranking.

network-map

If this is your first WordPress website and you like an easy life, we’d suggest finding a host which offers a simple one-click WordPress install. WordPress isn’t hard to install manually, but an auto install certainly saves you time learning how to do it yourself.

In terms of hosting, look for linux based hosting with some form of control panel which allows you to manage your hosting. ‘CPanel’ is probably the most common and, in our opinion, the easiest to use. However, dedicated WordPress hosting often comes with an alternative control panel. What really matters is that you can control your hosting, set up things like email, FTP access, deal with spam and so on.

While linux is the operating system used to run the server, but it uses other software to serve (run / manage) websites. Most of the linux hosts you’ll come across use Apache hosting software and Apache fully supports the technologies WordPress requires. NGINX (“engine X”) is a quick and lightweight alternative to Apache and has received a lot of favourable press, and can make WordPress fly. It’s no coincidence that NGINX currently runs some of the most popular sites on the Web. You don’t generally find NGINX on offer from budget hosting companies.

Draw up a shortlist

Once you know what you’re looking for, settle down with a cup of coffee and start searching. We’ve offered a couple of suggestions here, but have a good look around. Draw up a shortlist and then contact the customer services / support lines. Tell them as accurately as you can what you want and ask if their hosting matches those requirements. If you’re unimpressed by the replies, move on.

You’ll probably be looking for what is called “Managed WordPress Hosting“. ‘Managed’ means you don’t have to know or worry about managing a server or keeping it online and secure. The host company looks after all that. Ask your shortlisted hosts to explain what they mean by ‘WordPress hosting’ and how it differs from their normal shared hosting. If they can’t give a specific answer there probably isn’t a difference and it almost certainly isn’t set up for WordPress.

Don’t commit too much

pay-monthly

Pay monthly. Until you’re 100% sure your hosting is good enough for what you want, pay monthly. Even then, we’d say pay monthly. Larger hosting companies are forever buying up smaller companies and, when that happens, levels of support often tumble. In addition, unless you’re unlucky, your visitor numbers will increase and you can quickly outgrow your hosting. If you can’t upgrade with the same company you’ll soon need to be moving onwards and upwards. You won’t want to leave behind hosting you’ve paid for.

Recent Posts

  • Plugin Review - WP Rocket

WP Rocket Review

Review - WP Rocket cache plugin In case you didn't already know, WP Rocket is a WordPress caching plugin and, unlike most cache plugins, is only available in a 'premium' (you have to pay for [...]

  • WordPress Security

WordPress Security – 2

WordPress Security Plugins You can take care of the basics of WordPress security yourself, and it doesn't take long. The next step is to find a good, reliable security plugin that takes care of the [...]

  • WordPress Security

WordPress Security – 1

WordPress Security Out of the box, WordPress is a relatively secure publishing platform, but a magnet for hackers. Unless you want to find your site overrun by hackers on a regular basis, WordPress Security something [...]

  • feat-starter-plugs

Essential plugins at startup

Startup plugins and themes Like most people who create WordPress website regularly, we have what you might call a default approach and some essential plugins that we use. Basically, allowing for a few variations depending [...]

  • feat-notification-mails3

User Notification Emails

Changing the 'from' in notification emails Stopping WordPress sending user notification emails to new members from 'wordpress' or using 'wordpress@yourdomain.com'. When WordPress processes member registrations it sends new members an email which includes confirmation of [...]

  • feat-logins-1

Display User Logins

Showing User Logins If you're running a WordPress website with multiple users, administrators, authors, contributors or just normal subscribers, it's useful to be able to see your site's recent user logins, even if only for [...]

Starting Points

We’re not here to review and promote specific hosts, but we can offer a couple of opinions, and companies you might want to look at. Before choosing a specific host, think about where the majority of your visitors are likely to come from, and look for hosting companies which have servers in that same physical area. If your visitors are likely to be from the UK, choose a host with a server in the UK, or at least in Europe. If you’re in New York and you think most of your visitors will come from the East Coast, look for a server in that region. Being simplistic, it means your website will be a little bit faster for your visitors.

Personal Opinion

We would suggest avoiding Godaddy hosting, popular as they may seem. We originally planned to set this site up on their “wordpress hosting”, to give us a chance to review their hosting at the same time. We know that WordPress sites can be run on the type of ‘cheap and cheerful’ hosting they advertise, and we’d never used them before. We hadn’t counted on ‘cheap and absolutely bloody awful‘.

Even with a site with zero visitors and less than a dozen test pages, the performance was so poor that we had severe problems working in the site backend. We left in less than a week. We also discovered what “unforgivably poor customer service” means.

another sloth

Godaddy appears to have been set up to pander for people who like tits in their advertising and who enjoy listening to a recording of a nasal cheerleader excitedly telling them how fantaaastic Godaddy is while they wait on the phone to find out why their site is slower than a comatose sloth. To be fair, the visitor experience wasn’t as bad – it was reasonably quick for them – but if you can’t access your own site due to a lack of memory or resources, how can you build a site for visitors?

On balance, we agreed that Godaddy’s ‘wordpress hosting’ was the worst hosting we’d experienced since we had our very first websites. And they’re not even all that cheap.

Proper Dedicated WordPress Hosting

If you’re looking for low cost WordPress hosting you might speak to siteground.com or westhost.com, both of whom have good reputations and offer hosting capable of dealing with up to 100,000 visits a day. We’ve no experience with either host but we’ve heard many positive comments from people who use them. If you have a higher budget, WP-Engine offer good WordPress-dedicated hosting, but their hosting starts at $30 a month. We’ve yet to come across anybody who was critical of them, other than people who hadn’t paid their bills and got miffed when their sites were taken offline.

Beyond that, you ought to look at getting a managed VPS that is set up for WordPress. It’s a lot more expensive, of course, but if you start getting high visitor numbers, it’s what you’ll probably need. If you want a VPS we’d currently suggest looking at either vps.net or futurehosting.com. We use FutureHosting.