What to Look for in WordPress Hosting
There are lot of hosting options for WordPress from basic shared hosting to VPS and even dedicated servers but for the vast majority, hosting a WordPress site and using linux is too much work that could be spent on designing better websites and working with more customers. For those kind of users there are basically 2 choices
- A general shared hosting service
- Managed WordPress Hosting or WordPress Dedicated Hosting
But they are both shared!
Yes, that’s right but there are some misconceptions about this that need to be addressed to better understand each.
A general shared hosting service is very inexpensive and the basis is to host several customers per server and allocate few resources for each. Those services are all over the web and are easy to get. The main problem is, these services won’t allow you huge tons of visits and wont accept high CPU usage patterns. The basic general hosting services are then limited to small websites, blogs, microsites and corporate sites that have very few visits per month and do not need higher requirements.
But what about medium to big sites? What about webmasters that want fast performance? The general shared hosting services won’t help in that matter, that’s were the WordPress Hosting services enter.
WordPress hosting services allows more resource allocation per customer, fewer customers per server, big amounts of visits and higher CPU usage patterns than general hosting and will do so by also providing an easy to use control panel & backups but they are more expensive.
Since you’re reading an article on a WordPress focsed blog and I’m sure you want your blog to succeed, I am not going to recommend using a cheap hosting service and this article will not cover those, today I’m going to show you what kind of features would you want in a WordPress Hosting service provider.
Easy to Use Control Panel
Using a WordPress Hosting service does not mean you’re not gonna “share” resources with other users, it means you have much more CPU time, faster resources and lower latency. That’s why sometimes they share common control panels.
One of the easiest to use is cPanel and it’s pretty common to find this control panel everywhere. Even if you buy a WordPress hosting service you may find out they use cPanel. This is not bad as they usually have a much better webserver stack to deal with and fewer users shared per server so the response time will be better even if they use the same control panel that you see on other cheap shared hosting services.
cPanel is a good starting point as now supports Let’s Encrypt and cPanel certificates and will give you complete control over your files ,database & e-mails. There are several WordPress Hosting services that use custom interfaces and the vast majority are good enough. Just be sure not to buy a WordPress hosting service that uses outdated control panels as you may have security issues and less than expected performance.
PHP7 was introduced last year and its rapidly growing in adoption by each month. WordPress is fully compatible with PHP 7 and I advice you to upgrade your installation to the last version to support it. If you’re looking for a good WordPress hosting, make sure they support PHP 7 as that will seriously reduce the latency and response time of your site.
There are some WordPress Hosting services that will allow you to easily select a PHP version of your choosing and you’re advised to stick with PHP 7 and make sure your site supports it. In my next article I’m going to analyze what makes for a good webserver stack and why PHP7 is so important.
A Good Webserver Stack
Respected WordPress Hosting services usually have a very good webserver stack with all kinds of caching mechanisms built into it, this is like the soul of the service. There are some that use Varnish and there are other that use nginx as proxy with apache and even REDIS. As a rule of thumb, look for WordPress hosting services that don’t rely solely on Apache as that could injure your site performance.
More Features & Backup
Having an automated backup is almost a must and almost everyone out there has this in some form and the best services will even offer staging sites which are godsend if you’re seriously into developing for WordPress. This is a typical feature display for a WordPress Hosting service and more specifically it’s what Flywheel offers their customers.
Last but not least one of the most basic and important feature in any good WordPress Hosting is performance.
This is a typical shared hosting. You can see the server took 4.39s to respond to the first query so the website will render slowly on almost all circumstances. This is a product of a very crowded shared hosting service. It will be cheap but the performance will suffer accordingly. You just can’t buy a cheap hosting service and expect good performance, that’s reality for you.
On contrast you can see two different stacks, one for my site hosted on my own WordPress Hosting with nginx with the first query responded in less than 700ms and this same site running behind cloudflare with nginx. As a rule of thumb, any site that responds to it’s first query in less than 700ms is considered to be hosted on a good service. If you plan on hosting on a WordPress hosting service be sure to ask for a test site before proceeding.
We use WP Engine to host WPExplorer and in case you haven’t notices our website performs awesome. We have a huge amount of posts, websites, theme demos plus more all hosted on the same plan and our load times are still super fast.
Having good support behind every ticket is more important than very fast response times. I hear too much complaining about slow response times to tickets on some services when in fact the most important thing is not if the ticket is responded in less than 5 minutes but if the person behind that ticket is a professional who knows what it’s doing.
What’s the purpose of getting an answer to your ticket in less than 2 minutes when the person on the other site ask for clarification and won’t provide an acceptable answer? A clever professional is paramount to solving problems. Having someone on the other site won’t guarantee that your problem will get fixed in a timely manner.
A good support depends on professional staff. Have some time and read what kind of support a company offers. There are some WordPress Hosting services that will offer partial help if your site is having problems while there are others that won’t help you at all if your problem is not related to the hosting itself. This is where you can search for managed WordPress hosting vs unamanged. Having a managed service represents more peace of mind but price will increase accordingly. Choose carefully.
Deciding what kind of WordPress Hosting service you want is not an easy task but as a rule of thumb the most important factors should be: Performance, Support and Easy of Use. Just remember, never decide solely on price.
If you already tried several WordPress Hosting services let me know your experiences with them in the comments below.
In my opinion, cPanel is a really intuitive and easy-to-use control panel. You’ve managed to provide readers with very useful tips which can help them more easily chose a host and also to help them learn how to improve the performance of their websites. But, what is your opinion about solid-state drives? Since I started using one of the SSD WordPress hosting plans by BGOcloud, I’ve noticed that the speed of my website has improved a lot. As far as I know, SSDs can significantly speed up a website, which may lead to better conversions. What do you think, Alex? Do you recommend that people look for SSD or HDD hosting in terms of prices/reliability/speed, etc.?