When you are choosing a host for your wordpress site it may be tempting just to do so based on price or technical requirements but this approach very rarely works out well. Running your wordpress site on a host without the necessary resources, expertise and support structure will damage your rankings, decrease your traffic and result in dozens of angry email exchanges. Take it from experience, it is worth a few hours up front doing a bit of research before making a choice.
Choosing the wrong web hosting service can mean disaster for your business or personal blog. Some potential impacts of not doing your homework before choosing a host and ending up with a crap hosting provider including:
- Loss of revenue
- Negative effects on your SEO ranking
- Malware and security attacks
- Hours of lost time fire fighting and sending angry emails to support teams
There are some seriously horrible aftereffects from choosing the wrong web host for your WordPress site and if you want to make sure you avoid them, below are some tips and guidelines on how to choose the best one for your WordPress sites. I appreciate it is a pain to research this but trust me that it will save you a ton of hassle in the long run.
Types Of WordPress Hosts
There are many different types of web hosting options for WordPress but the main types can be summarized into five main types:
We will discuss each one of these five in turn and how each of them varies in terms of speed, price, security and reliability. The optimal type for you will be dependent on your type of wordpress site you plan to run (i.e. low traffic text only blog, high traffic video heavy etc) – some hosting options may be overkill for your needs whilst others may save you a few bucks in the short term but cost you far more in the longer term. Therefore, your first step is to work out the short, medium (i.e. approx 1 year) and long term (i.e. more than one year) plans for your site. You need to be choosing something that will suit your short and medium term needs but have the flexibility to upgrade in the longer term should you grow. We will also offer one or two companies we recommend within each category – these recommendations come from personal experience or the experience others we trust (clients in other businesses and friends).
1. Free WordPress Hosting
If you are looking for the very cheapest option you can have wordpress hosted for free on wordpress.com but you need to be aware this is not the same wordpress as the open source self hosted wordpress you can download from wordpress.org. If you host on wordpress.com then you will save a bit of money but you will not have the same choice of themes or widgets to use and you will not have the access to the backend to make any customizations. In short, this is only suitable for personal blogs where you are not overly concerned about the front end look and features and you are happy with free wordpress themes and basic functionality.
If you are looking for free self hosting of wordpress you can sometimes find free hosting offers on hosting forums. However, there are once again negatives to this approach as whilst they save you money, you will also have to agree to banner or text ads on your site. This can make the overall look somewhat cluttered but the ads and texts pay for your sites hosting so you will have no choice but to keep them there. Another big downside to this type of wordpress hosting is that the people offering the free service can pull the plug at any time and leave you hanging. For the vast majority of people, free hosting is not the way to go.
2. Shared Hosting For WordPress
This is the most popular type of WordPress hosting especially with those starting out or with low traffic websites. The popularity of shared hosting is mainly due to affordability and it is a good starting point for new users. It is cheap because your site will be on the same server as many other sites – maybe hundreds of sites. You can get all the security features required, cpanel access, your own domain name, email addresses, your own IP address, sub domains, auto installation of wordpress and (hopefully) good support.
The main issue with this type of hosting is that it you have limited resources (bandwidth and RAM) which will limit the speed of your site and cause it to crash if you get a significant amount of traffic or have media heavy pages. Remember, it is not just the amount of traffic you get but the scripts and MB required to be loaded on each pages that determines the load on your server. Media heavy or script filled pages will not load fast on a shared host which can affect your ranking.
If you have a wordpress site that has less than 10,000 visitors a month, minimal use of videos and large images then a good share host should be fine for you. We would recommend the following shared hosting providers for wordpress sites:
Bluehost (from $4.95 per month)
GoDaddy (from $4.99 per month)
Please note: if you go this route and want to speed up you site without choosing one of the hosting options below I would recommend using a content delivery network like MaxCDN together with the free plugin W3 Total Cache. A content delivery network would also work well with managed or VPS hosting.
3. Managed WordPress Hosting
Due to the exponential rise of WordPress, and its unique MySQL and PHP needs, several dedicated wordpress hosts have grown very popular. These hosts are focused on wordpress and nothing else. They optimize their servers to keep wordpress sites and plugins working very fast and their fully managed service means you will not have to get involved in the root processes (unlike unmanaged VPS solutions which can be a similar price). If you have ever been frustrated with how your wordpress sites run on the more popular shared hosts then this definitely an option to consider.
In exchange for greater speed and reliability compared to shared hosts you will have to pay a bit more – normally $25+ per month for a site with less than 25,000 visitors a month. This type of hosting is most suitable for established bloggers or business sites who need more RAM and stability than a shared host and want their hosting fully managed by support staff who understand wordpress from back to front. Our recommended managed wordpress hosting provider:
WPEngine: (from $29 per month)
4. VPS Hosting For WordPress
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is one of the newer forms of web hosting that has gained a lot of in the last couple of years. The main reason they have grown so popular is that they are functionally equivalent to a dedicated physical server but are much cheaper than them. A VPS will share the same hardware as other VPSs but run its own copy of an operating system giving users root access (you can get them fully managed if you don’t want to get involved at this level). In summary, this is a great choice if you need more memory and stability than a shared host can provide. They can handle media rich wordpress sites which have resource heavy scripts and they should also allow you to scale up easily. You can get normally customize the set up of your VPS easily and they will typically be sperated into managed or unmanaged VPS packages. Our recommended VPS hosts:
Media Temple (from $30 per month)
Future Hosting (from $25 per month)
5. Dedicated Server Hosting For WordPress
If you want the type of webhosting that has the highest level of performance, scalability, accessibility and support then then this is what you are looking for. This is most expensive type given you are 100% of the expensive hardware for yourself. We have never had the need for dedicated server but from what I hear and read these are two of the best dedciatd sever companies:
HostGator (from $139 per month)
Future Hosting (from $89 per month)