Nearly 23 percent of the world’s websites run on WordPress, and it is the first choice of many users looking to build a web presence. As a blogger, I love the power and flexibility the platform provides right out of the box. It is important to understand that it will only run as well as the server it is hosted on, which is why it is crucial to choose the right WordPress host. I will explain the five most important factors below.
WordPress can run on shared, VPS or dedicated hosting. For a small site or one that is just starting out, I recommend shared hosting for the low cost and fast set up. Those who are not experienced with self-hosting will want to choose a provider with cPanel as this will allow for easy administration to the hosting account and WordPress. The main requirements are:
- PHP 5.2.4 or newer
- mySQL 5.0 or newer
Other important considerations include the PHP memory limit, CPU limit, disk space and disk type. The memory limit and CPU limit can cause WordPress to come to a stop if they are set too low. Since the platform allows the upload of photos and media files, plenty of storage is required. I recommend using a host with SSD drives as this will make WordPress run considerably faster.
With online security becoming more challenging in the wake of large data breaches, it is vital to choose a host that provides excellent security. I always ask about spam defense, DDoS protection and the backup policy before purchasing an account. (I also recommend that users always make their own backups, just to be safe.) In addition, a host that costs more is not automatically safer. Ask the questions and proceed from there.
A basic shared host will only provide support for the server and not for WordPress. Before using any host, I test its technical support by how fast it replies to pre-sales questions and how thorough the answers are. A good WordPress host will respond to tickets within minutes and keep its customers informed of maintenance or any other ongoing issue.
A premium host will offer phone support for users, but this is often at a higher cost. It will also tackle the more complicated issues that arise with WordPress, including caching, speed and handling traffic spikes.
Here is where I am going to talk about the difference between basic hosting and hosting that focuses only on WordPress. While most users can choose an affordable shared host that meets all the requirements, others will need a more specialized approach.
A WordPress-focused host will provide extra features such as a staging area that allows the user to experiment with new themes or plugins before placing them on the live site. The host will also take care of all the optimization that WordPress requires and will keep the install upgraded and secure. This removes most of the work for the user and allows more time for running the site. I recommend this type of hosting for large, complex WordPress sites that have outgrown basic hosting and need to scale as well as users who do not want the burden of daily upkeep.
When it comes to hosting, price is always a major consideration. There are many shared and VPS providers that offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth for a tiny fee but may have limitations when it comes to CPU and memory. Both of these factors come into play when a WordPress site is growing. There is no such thing as unlimited hosting.
When launching a new site, I start small with a quality shared host that offers a reasonable amount of resources for an affordable price. This should cost between $8 to $10 per month. Always pay by the month until a host proves itself worthy. When the time comes to scale up, the average price will rise to $30 per month for a premium host.
Price is not always an indication of quality. There are some shared hosts that provide great, low-cost service. There are some premium hosts that charge an exorbitant monthly fee and are riddled by frequent downtime or security issues. This is why it is important to ask questions and know exactly what is being provided for the price.
It can be daunting to find the right WordPress host. Following the tips above will ensure the perfect fit.