How To Choose The Right WordPress Hosting

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

HDDIf 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

Add-on DomainA 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

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

DatabaseEach 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.

Control Panel

cPanel

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

Support

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?

Old or New

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.

Email Hosting

WebWhen 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.

Backups

Backup

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.

Online Reviews

Online Reviews

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. 😉

Conclusion:

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! And checkout VentureHarbour’s detailed review of the best web hosting companies.

  • 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.
Sourav
Post Author: Sourav

Sourav is a WordPress enthusiast, an avid gamer and a sitcom collector. His playlists include heavy metal, electronic, and new-age tracks. When he's not online, he's spending quality time with his friends and family. You can follow him on Twitter.

Disclosure: This page contains external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a comission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own. We do not receive payment for positive reviews.
Got something to say? Join the discussion.
  1. Vikram Pandit says:
    A very detailed article Sourav! My blog is currently hosted on GoDaddy but I'm deciding to switch over to Bluehost as it is affordable and has decent reviews. Thanks for sharing.
    • Sourav K says:
      Sourav K
      Glad you liked the article Vik. :D Yeah I've tried BlueHost before (one of my client's sites is hosted there). I can vouch for them - reliable, fast and in the 2.5 years I've been using it, I'm yet to face a downtime!
      Author
  2. piyush001 says:
    nice article about server choosing.. but do you provide backup facility..???
    • Sourav K says:
      Sourav K
      Hi Piyush, I'm not sure which hosting provider you're referring to - so I'm just gonna go ahead and recommend one. CrocWeb - LiteSpeed (web server) powered Canadian hosting with daily R1Soft backups, with a retention period of 30 days. Plans start at 4.95$/month, but if you spend some time over at WHT, you can find a 50 or 30% off coupon! Hope this helps. Cheers, Sourav
      Author
  3. Jim Walker says:
    Instead of relying on potentially biases reviews, use the WordPress Benchmark plugin to check your web hosts speed and real performance numbers. Here are the numbers from my tests: BlueHost VPS ($59.99 per Month) CPU Speed: 22,842 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: 4.03 Mbps Database Queries per Second: 2,542 Queries/Sec Godaddy Shared Hosting ($5.99 / Month) CPU Speed: 19,082 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: 2.39 Mbps Database Queries per Second: 1,051 Queries/Sec Hostgator Shared Hosting Reseller ($24.99 / Month) CPU Speed: 14,625 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: 5.47 Mbps Database Queries per Second: 1,577 Queries/Sec TVC.Net SSD cPanel Hosting, ($3.00 / Month) CPU Speed: 45,233 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: 7.71 Mbps Database Queries per Second: 3,422 Queries/Sec
    • AJ Clarke | WPExplorer says:
      AJ Clarke | WPExplorer
      These are some nice stats, thanks for sharing! Got any for WPEngine and Media Temple? Would also be good to note what service (shared, DV, VPS..) is being used for the test because each host has different services.
      Admin
  4. Jim Walker says:
    Media Temple (gs) Grid-Service ($20.00 / Month) CPU Speed: 15,707 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: will not load Database Queries per Second: will not load WPEngine Professional ($99.00 / Month) CPU Speed: 22,121 BogoWips Network Transfer Speed: 4.51 Mbps Database Queries per Second: 176 Queries/Sec
  5. panagiotis says:
    WPengine is the the most specialized wordpress hosting provider.However, i believe their prices as extremely high. I would definitely choose them if the has more reasonable prices..Anyhow, thank you for the analysis..
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      You pay for what you get ;) I would rather pay more money and have a super fast site that never goes down, then pay less and my website is really slow or goes down often. But in my case, my websites are my main source of income. Maybe a casual blogger would benefit from a more affordable solution.
      Admin
  6. Hi, I am a graphic designer. I start doing some web design : first my web portfolio that I build from A to Z and also the website of a client (WordPress with a template and someone to do the coding in the company). I still don't know if I will have to create some website for some future clients. I need to find a good web host for my portfolio first. So if you have any advice?
    • AJ Clarke says:
      AJ Clarke
      Hi Kenza, it depends mostly on your budget. At WPExplorer.com we use WPEngine and we really love it. It's very fast, caching is built-in, there is a CDN available if wanted and so far we have had great support. But this is a WordPress only host, you can't host plain HTML sites. We recently did a review of Godaddy though and their new Managed WP hosting is really good and they are more affordable. Good luck with your venture!
      Admin
  7. I pay a lot towards web hosting yet i am looking for better performance. After reading this article i have a very good understanding WP Hosting now. My next web hosting would be Wp hosting. Great work explaining. Thanks

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