WordPress is continuously evolving into a Content Management Solution (CMS) which is feature filled for the most advanced user, while simultaneously being dead-easy for beginners to setup and use. If you’ve been using WordPress for a couple of months, I’m sure that you’ve started to imagine its numerous applications. Running a self-hosted WordPress blog can be easy and difficult at the same time. If you have substantial investment, a managed WordPress hosting platform such as WPEngine would be perfect. But if you’re just launching a website or a blog, then going for managed WordPress hosting ‘might’ be considered as waste of money. In such cases, a shared hosting company would be perfect – mainly because they’re cheap and reliable at same time. However, it involves certain risks. If you’re totally new to the web-hosting scenario, the chances of you being taken for a ride (or being scammed in simple terms), increases considerably.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about shared WordPress hosting – how to choose a good shared hosting company and some recommendations. I’m assuming that you’ll be running WordPress, so we’ll discuss the features/requirements of a good host in terms of WordPress. Let’s get started.
Bandwidth & Disk Space
If you’re starting a website, 5 GB of monthly transfer would be sufficient. As for disk space, 5 GB would be enough. But if you’re going to host a lot of downloadable content in your website, then you would need more bandwidth and disk space in accordance to your content’s total size. Most popular hosting providers allow unlimited bandwidth and/or disk space.
Number Of Sites Or Add-On Domains
A good shared hosting provider allows you to host at least 10 different websites. Popular ones allow you to host unlimited sites. You might be thinking – why would I need to host more than one site? Here’s why:
Most often, it’s always economic to buy a shared hosting account for a minimum of one year. If you’d want to buy it on a monthly basis, it would cost you a great deal more. So imagine, if six months from now, you decide to open your very own portfolio website and the web host you’ve bought, does not allow more than one domain. What would you do then? Buy another hosting account? Hence, it’s always wiser to go for a web host which allows to host more than one domain.
Number Of Sub-Domains
A sub-domain is a second website, with its own unique content, but there is no new domain name. Instead, you use an existing domain name and change the www to another name. The sub-domain name looks like forums.domain.com. Most hosting providers allow unlimited sub-domains – yours should too. Here are some possible uses of a sub-domain:
- Test your WordPress site to conduct theme and plugin tests and conduct
- Hosting a download only sub-domain: http://download.domain.com/site-stats.pdf
- Hosting a portfolio site: http://author.domain.com/
- Hosting a forum: http://forum.domain.com/
Number Of MySQL Databases
Each installation of WordPress requires one MySQL database. Therefore, your web host must have at least 1 MySQL database to host your WordPress site. However, it is recommended that your host has a limit of ~10 databases, ideally unlimited. You might need an extra database to host your forum, or to install a testing environment for your WordPress site or install some other site software.
cPanel is the world’s leading hosting control panel, used by the majority of shared hosting providers. Its got features and video tutorials for the absolute beginner and the hard-core professional. For a beginner, I would recommend using a web host that provides cPanel. However, if this isn’t your first time, you’re free to choose any control panel!
Customer support is one of the crucial aspects of a web hosting company. There is reason why the well-known web hosting providers such as HostGator have annual plans starting at $5.56 USD a month (for a 1 year contract), and others start as low as $2 USD. It all comes down to quality customer support.
Old Or New – Which Host Should I Go For?
This is another very important factor most of us tend to overlook. The age of a web hosting company is to be taken into due consideration before going for it. If its been in the market for just a couple of months – it’s better not to go for it, unless you’re absolutely sure about what you’re doing and what to do if things don’t work out. This doesn’t mean that all new hosting companies are bad. I’m not saying that.
The beginning of all great things is small.
We all know that. Here’s some food for thought:
Time is the greatest teacher.
People gain experience and wisdom as the years pass by. Therefore, it is always recommended to go for a company that’s been around for at least 1-2 years.
When you have a website of your own, it’s only a matter of time before you need email hosting. My advice – keep web hosting and email hosting completely separate. Why? Because setting up email hosting is pretty messy (and complicated) and you’re stuck with PHP+MySQL based email clients which offer little or no mobile support and have insufficient countermeasures against e-bomb attacks, etc.
Thanks to Google apps – the email hosting scenario has been revolutionized into unified, simple and efficient inbox. Sadly, as of December 2012 Google discontinued the free version of their email hosting service. Not to worry though – check out Zoho or Microsoft Outlook for free email hosting. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend switching to a separate email provider – right from the beginning, to avoid future problems.
Pricing & Refund Policy
The pricing of a company’s product can be addressed logically. An average of $4-6 USD is decent pricing for a shared host. Less than $2.5 USD should be avoided. Of course if you avail a discount of a 50% you’re probably going to get your first six months at less than $2 USD per month, but that’s a different scenario. In a nutshell:
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
As for the refund policy, reputed hosts are known to be true to their word. Most companies offer a 15 to 30 day money back guarantee. At least a 7 day money back guarantee must be offered by your host.
Digital goods can go kaput anytime anywhere – that includes a $15 digital watch or a $6,000 Supermicro server. That’s why people spend a lot of money backing up their data. This is where one of the major advantages of cloud hosting lies – if one server goes down, your content is served from the other. HostGator’s shared hosting backup policy is a bit iffy, but they do take weekly backups. CrocWeb on the other hand takes daily backups of your data via R1Soft, with 30 day restore points.
WebHostingTalk is the number one resource to discover great new hosting companies and offers. I highly recommend using it. Pay close attention to the user comments and see if they affect your requirements in any way. Some folks love to criticize others and some even go so far as to say untrue things. So make sure to use that “Contact Form” before you say no. ;)
There are literally tens of thousands of shared hosting companies out there. Anyone with a 10 dollar investment can start one – yes – it’s that easy. Of course, you could imagine the ramifications of hosting your website in such a company – let’s not go into that.
As promised, here are a couple of web hosts that we recommend keeping in mind all the previously mentioned factors. You could also visit our hosting page to discover more brands!
- HostGator: Annual plans start at $5.56/mo, hosts over 9,000,000 domains
- BlueHost: Plans start at $4.95/mo, including a 50% off in the first month
- CrocWeb: LiteSpeed powered hosting, starting at $4.95/mo, hosts over 30,000 websites
- HostMonster: Another brand we support, with unlimited hosting plans starting at 4$.95/mo
- WPEngine: If you’re starting a company blog or website backed with substantial investment, WPEngine is your best bet. Check out our WPEngine review to find out more.