So you’re ready to get started with a website. You have an idea that you’re going to turn into a successful WordPress site, and you’ve even started pooling resources together. All that you need now is a good home for your WordPress site – a good web hosting plan to help you realize your goals and achieve your online dreams.
With the millions of web hosting providers out there, it can be an uphill task to choose the best (or the right one). And you need a good plan because if you don’t have web hosting going on for you, running an online business can and will give you migraines. You need the best, and nothing short of it.
In today’s post, I will take you through the process of choosing the right web hosting for your WordPress site. I will also recommend a few WordPress hosts to make your work easier. These are companies we use and spend our own money on, so we feel confident recommending them to you. By the end of this post, you will be able to choose the best WordPress hosting for your next project.
What are the Hosting Requirements to Run WordPress?
We want to help you get your WordPress powered site up and running, and to do that you need a hosting plan. Per the WordPress.org requirements page, the minimum server requirements to install and run WordPress are:
- PHP version 7.4+
- MySQL version 5.7+ or MariaDB version 10.3+
- Nginx or Apache with mod-rewrite module
- HTTPS support
Though this is the bare minimum. The current version of PHP is 8.2, so truthfully we’d personally recommend using at least PHP 8.0 to ensure your site is taking full advantage of the latest security improvements and memory usage optimizations.
In addition, for HTTPS it’s even better if a host offers built-in support free SSL. Most top hosts offer integration with Let’s Encrypt, a free SSL service (which we’ll be covering in our next guide). And having a quick way to add HTTPS to your site will save you so much time and money in the long run.
Features and Performance
The features and level of performance provided by a web host are important. But what’s even more important are the features you need to run your WordPress site. It makes no sense to go for a WordPress hosting plan with features you won’t use.
For example, let’s say you have one website with a few pages (such as an online resume) and it’s getting under a thousand visitors per month. While tempting, you probably don’t need a custom hosting plan that allows for millions of visitors, 1TB or storage and unlimited sites. Yes – a custom plan is “better” than a basic shared hosting plan when comparing features. However it’s not necessarily the best choice (or use of fiscal resources) when considering the needs of a small resume site.
What Do You Need?
Prepare in advance. Jot down a list of what you need today and what you project you will need a year from now (since you can often save money by signing up for an annual hosting plan). Here are a few points to think about:
- Will you need to host more than one WordPress site?
- Does your host of choice support unlimited domains or subdomains? Or will you need to move to another host to enjoy these features?
- If you already have a website, does the new host offer a migration tool or service?
- Apart from WordPress, will you need to install other scripts – on a subdomain or separate domain – in the future?
- Are you willing to pay extra for backup services?
- Would you like to take advantage of a free domain?
- Are the ethics of the web hosting company important (such as eco-friendliness)?
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself. After all, it’s all about you and what you wish to achieve. Having a solid plan for your website, blog or online business will point you to the right WordPress hosting.
With that in mind – let’s look at what you should look for when choosing the best web host for you.
Disk Space & Bandwidth
Hosting plans include a set level of disk space (or storage) and bandwidth (or transfers). If you’re starting a website, 5 GB of disk space would be a good baseline (and thankfully most hosts start at 10GB). As for bandwidth, 5 GB monthly should be sufficient.
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 (which means they won’t penalize you if you go over one month), but you should plan to purchase hosting with the correct amount of storage that your site needs.
Number Of Sites Or Add-On Domains
Most entry level hosting plans (especially Managed ones) restrict the number of websites you can add to your plan. Though some do allow you to host unlimited sites, this is typically once you’ve scaled up to a more robust and expensive plan. But if you want to host more than one site, make sure this is an option your hosting allows for.
So why might you want to have multiple websites? Most often, it’s the economical choice to buy a shared hosting account for a minimum of one year. Monthly priced plans pretty much always cost you a great deal more than annual plans. So, if you think that there is a decent chance you will expand or branch out into multiple niches within the year then make sure to choose a hosting plan that allows multiple websites.
Number Of Subdomains (e.g. Multisite)
A subdomain is a second website, with its own unique content, but there is no new domain name. In WordPress this is more commonly referred to as a multisite. With a subdomain, you use an existing domain name and change the www to the new site name. The structure is typically like “subdomain.domain.com”. Most hosting providers allow for subdomains – yours should too. Here are some possible uses of a sub-domain:
- Download only sub-domain: https://download.domain.com/free-resource.pdf
- Portfolio site: https://author.domain.com/
- Forum: https://forum.domain.com/
- Separate business blog: https://blog.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!
Built-in backups are also a plus. While you can and should keep your own site backups, having an automated alternative ensures that even if the worst happens you’re covered.
When you have a website of your own, it’s only a matter of time before you need email hosting. You can choose a host with this included. But 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. Plus, there are amazing independent email options like G-suite that make setting up a business email fairly painless.
Quality Customer Support
The quality of customer support that a web host provides should tell you a lot about the company. If the customer support leaves a lot to be desired, you don’t want to trust that company with your online business. Imagine your site goes down for some reason, can you contact tech support and get instant help? If they are available, can they fix the problem quickly? Or will it take ages to get help even for the smallest of issues?
Before choosing a web host for your WordPress website(s), ensure they have a good reputation for customer support. A good web hosting company will provide multiple ways of contact – most commonly email and chat. Some premium hosting plans will also allow for phone support. In any case, a good support team should have someone to help you 24/7, as well as good reviews on the internet. Do your research and choose a web host that values customer support. This will help you in the long run!
How Much Does Good Hosting Cost?
For most people, the cost of WordPress hosting is the primary consideration when choosing a web host. The impulse here is to go for the cheapest offer there is, which might be ok (just please never, ever choose free hosting). But this is often not the best move to make.
Keep in mind that in general you get exactly what you pay for in life. Web hosts – just like any other business – must turn in a profit even when they seem to give you unlimited everything. While it’s safe to say that we all love a good bargain, you should take a closer look at the features a prospective web host offers as opposed to jumping on the first cheap plan that comes your way.
The price of web hosting depends on a number of factors. This can include the the quality of support and the health of servers amongst others. If you need a powerful hosting plan, you have to pay a premium.
Bottom line – you simply can’t expect the best WordPress hosting in the world for $1 a month.
On the other hand, you don’t need to pay out the nose for quality hosting. Unless you’re running a serious business, thriving e-commerce store or an already immensely popular blog you don’t need to be paying hundreds of dollars per month.
Often, a new blog that’s not generating an income can find a good hosting plan in the $10 to $30 per month range. And a business or online store with moderate traffic can certainly get by with a plan around $100-200.
But when looking at plans don’t fall for the “unlimited everything” trap that is supposed to lure you in. Nothing is really unlimited. Since these are often shared web hosting plans (we’ll talk about hosting types below) there are a limited number of resources being split between every website on that shared server. So once your website starts pulling in large amounts of visitors, the web host will politely require you scale up your plan. If you have a WordPress portal that gets millions of page views per month, shared hosting probably won’t cut it – even with the unlimited options.
That said you can definitely start with budget friendly web hosting. Just scale up with the growth of your website, as your traffic and income increases. You can certainly stay within your budget and choose a web hosting provider who offers the features you need.
What are the Main Types of Hosting?
When looking for hosting the number of companies, types and plans can be overwhelming. And on top of it all it seems like every web host claims to be the best in the biz, which doesn’t really seem possible… But lucky for you we’ve hd the chance to try a number of hosting companies and plans over the years.
We mentioned before that there are all kinds of hosting options. Cloud, VPS, dedicated, shared, managed, etc. And there are even more companies to consider. So to simplify things, below we cover two main categories of WordPress hosting:
- Managed WordPress Hosting
- Typical, Shared Web Hosting
- Flexible Cloud Hosting
And for each we’ll share our #1 recommended hosting company and the features they offer.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting companies specialize in providing hosting solutions for the WordPress platform. This means you can only host WordPress sites with them, and nothing else. Additionally the host manages all things server related and often offers automatic updates for WordPress core and sometimes even themes and plugins
This is great for you because all their resources are dedicated to your WordPress platform, and we all know that concentrated efforts = better results. The following are the leading managed WordPress hosting companies in the market right now.
We highly recommend WP Engine, and in our opinion it’s the best managed WordPress hosting solution out there. But we’re not just saying that – it’s what we actually pay for and use here at WPExplorer. We’ve been using WP Engine for years, and the experience has been top notch.
WP Engine’s support team is focused on and dedicated to WordPress. Every team member completes an 8 week training program before assisting customers. Besides that, the company boasts one of the best customer to support staff ratios in the industry. Meaning you get uber-fast, personal and quality support at all times. Just use the live chat box for instant help when you need it.
That’s not the end of it. Ever since we started using WP Engine, we’ve never had to worry about backing up WPExplorer because it is taken care of automatically on a daily basis (though we still recommend maintaining redundant backups). Plus you can restore your site whenever with a few clicks.
WP Engine plans start at $20/mo and offer the following features based on plan:
- Firewalls and malware scanning
- International data centers (with redundancy)
- EverCache caching solution
- Uptime protection
- Unlimited data transfer
- Scalable plans
- Local development & test sites
- Auto migration plugin
- One-click staging sites with easy deploy
- Automated backups
- Automatic WordPress core updates
- Transferable sites
- Free CDN and SSL
- Free StudioPress Genesis framework & themes
- Easy Multisite management
- Multifactor authentication
- Account activity log
- Top of the range hardware
- Page speed performance tools
- Development tools
- Git & SFTP connections
- 24/7/365 support (four-time-Stevie Award-winning)
- And so much more…
In our experience, WP Engine is the best managed WordPress hosting solution for you whether you run a personal blog, a professional WordPress site or an e-commerce portal. It’s what we have used for WPExplorer for well over a decade, so we can honestly say they are our top pick.
Traditional (Shared) Web Hosting
Most web hosting companies support a number of platforms including WordPress. And to make things easier, there’s often a 1-click installation option you can select when getting started with your hosting plan.
Just purchase your hosting package, install WordPress with a few clicks, and your work is done. This option is more popular than managed WordPress hosting, especially for bloggers. It can be very budget friendly (you might have seen hosting promotions in the $1-3 range before), but doesn’t offer the same quality features and support that come with managed WordPress hosting.
With instant setup, anytime money-back guarantee, unlimited domain hosting, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited disk space, unlimited email accounts, a free domain, site building tools, FTP, SSL, 24/7 support and a couple of other sweet features, Bluehost is a big name in the web hosting business.
WordPress.org even vouches for Bluehost and recommends them on their main hosting page. That said – we have one caveat when recommending shared hosting, especially from Bluehost. Go with their Choice Plus plan.
We recommend going with Choice Plus for two reasons. One being that you get a number of helpful add-ons to optimize and protect your website. The second is that with the basic, bare-bones Bluehost working on your site can be tedious. The backend is notoriously slow, but by upgrading it becomes worlds faster saving you many future headaches.
A Choice Plus shared hosting plan from Bluehost starts at as little as $5.45 per month (or $19.99 after the promotional term ends) and includes the following:
- 40GB storage
- Unlimited bandwidth (note – remember what we said about “unlimited” before)
- Unlimited sites
- Free SSL
- Free CDN
- Domain name (free for the first year)
- Daily site backups (also free for the first year)
Bluehost does offer a better price if you signup for a longer contract term, so keep that in mind as you’re pricing our their plans. And apart from shared hosting, Bluehost also provides VPS, dedicated servers, email hosting, as well as a number of professional business services.
Managed Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting utilizes a network of remote cloud resources to host and deploy websites. This means that when you purchase a hosting plan, your website is not tied to a single specific physical server. But unlike traditional cloud hosting, where you have to fine tune server settings yourself, the whole process is managed by the hosting company. This makes it a breeze to spin up new sites, and allows you to scale up or down without issue.
For all things cloud-hosting we like Cloudways. Their platform offers flexible hosting options at a variety of price points. Choose from the three top cloud providers – Digital Ocean, Google Cloud or AWS, then scale your digital server’s resources according to your needs.
What we really like about Cloudways is how easy it is to launch websites. They offer 1-click quick launch for WordPress sites, site cloning and even staging. And since Cloudways is managed cloud hosting they help maintain your server(s) for you with built-in features like server auto-healing, proactive application monitoring and also a SafeUpdates add-on (for core, theme and plugin updates). Other standard hosting features include:
- Unlimited applications (e.g. sites)
- Free SSL
- Free Migration
- Staging sites
- Automated backups
- Dedicated Firewalls
- Optimized cache stack
- SSH/SFTP Access
Do keep in mind that Cloudways pricing varies according to the provider and resources you select. The more you add on, the more it will cost. Plans start at $11/mo with Digital Ocean, which offers 25GB of storage with 1TB of bandwidth, and goes all the way up to over $3500 for a massive top tier AWS server.
Choosing the right WordPress hosting is the first step towards achieving online success. You want to avoid web hosting-related problems from the get-go to concentrate on creating products, marketing your WordPress site and generally making money. Before you leave, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comment section below.