It is not easy to choose the best WordPress hosting service for your business website. It is a decision that you need to invest some time in because the performance and service of your hosting provider has a direct impact on your sales, SEO, website’s performance and uptime.
The fact that there is a lot competition, does not make this decision an easy one. However, in this article we help you making the right decision. We won’t tell you which web host to use, but we will tell you about the different type of WordPress hosting services and what to look out for.
WordPress hosting; managed, self-managed or VPS?
Before you start looking at what every hosting provider has to offer, you have to determine what type of WordPress hosting service you need. In this section we explain the different types available:
WordPress managed hosting
Some hosting providers such as Kinsta and WP Engine provide WordPress managed hosting services; they are built specially to host WordPress websites and blogs. Getting started with them is very easy and they have a dedicated WordPress support team. This is helpful, especially if you do not want to get bogged down in the technicalities of your website: should you encounter an issue with your WordPress they will look into it for you.
Also, many managed WordPress hosting services also offer additional services, such as caching systems, CDNs, WordPress auto updates, WordPress backups etc. Another out of the box feature most hosting providers have is the staging site. A staging website allows you to make changes to the website and preview them before published live.
Self-managed hosting is the other end of the spectrum. You rent the server or hosting space and you have to install and setup everything yourself. It depends on what time of self-managed hosting service you choose, however you might have to configure the web server, MySQL database, mail server, FTP, SSH and all the other services yourself. With self-managed hosting you also have to take care of the server’s operating system, updates and security.
In case of self-managed hosting, the provider only supports you with issues related to your server package and connection. They do not support you with any issues you might have with your WordPress website.
Why self-managed hosting?
Although self-managed hosting sounds like a crazy thing to do, it is not. Self-managed hosting provides you with all the flexibility you need, and is ideal for bigger businesses who have a whole web farm. For example with a WordPress managed hosting service you are limited to running just WordPress and using the host’s specific setup. There is nothing wrong with that, but some businesses require more than that.
The only downside to self-managed hosting is that you are responsible for the hardening, security and management of the server. So it is not something for you if you are not an experienced systems engineer.
Shared or dedicated WordPress hosting?
Another decision you have to make before researching which is the best hosting provider for your WordPress website, is whether you need shared or dedicated hosting. In this section we explain what the differences are between the two.
What is shared hosting?
In shared hosting, a number of websites share the resources of a single server. Shared hosting is a good starter solution, if your website has a few hundreds visits a week. However, migrate to a dedicated solution as soon as the website traffic increases because the performance of shared hosting services is very limiting.
Also, your website’s performance can be impacted by other websites; if one of the other websites running on the same shared hosting server as yours is consuming a lot of resources, your website will be slowed down.
IMPORTANT: WordPress security in shared hosting environment
In a shared hosting environment the security of your WordPress website depends on the security of other websites running on the same server. Since all the websites are running on the same server, an attacker in some cases can hack your website through a hacked website on the same server. So your efforts are almost futile unless all websites on the server are secured properly.
Dedicated WordPress hosting
With a dedicated WordPress hosting plan all the server’s resources are used solely by your website. Also, when using a dedicated server you can install all the software and applications you like. However, you also need to take care of the server’s hardening, security and management.
The perfect WordPress hosting for your website
The perfect WordPress web host for your business is not the perfect one for someone else. It all depends on your requirements. Every different type of WordPress web host has its pros and cons and there is on one-fits-all solution.
Other WordPress web host features
Once you decide on the type of WordPress hosting solution you need for your website, start comparing the hosting providers that provide such service. Here are some tips on what you need to look out for and test when choosing your hosting provider, irrelevant if it is WordPress managed hosting or self-hosting.
Web hosting support
Support is one of the most important factors. Your website will be running on a server which is installed somewhere in a datacentre, to which you do not have physical access to. Therefore when something goes wrong, or you cannot connect to your website anymore, the hosting provider’s support engineers are the only people who can save your day. A very good response time and a technical team are a must.
If you are new to WordPress look for a hosting provider whose support can help you troubleshoot both hosting and WordPress issues. There are quite a few hosting providers that provide very good WordPress support. For example ASPHostPortal, Kinsta and WP Engine provide very WordPress support. We use all three of them.
Level of support
To get an idea of how good the provider’s support and after sales service is, read user reviews and ratings on independent platforms and forums. If possible, give it a shot for yourself by asking as many questions as you can during your evaluation. You can also ask for a free trial on which you can run a test website. Many WordPress web hosts do provide a free trial.
WordPress hosting provider performance
Performance is critical. Website speed can effect your website’s SEO and number of visits. There are quite a few tools you can use to test the performance of a web host. For example you can setup a simple website and use tools such as Pingdom and GTmetrix (free tools) to measure how long it takes for a website to load.
Hosting provider uptime
The uptime of your website should be as close to 100% as possible. However, achieving a 100% uptime is nearly impossible because problems do happen and maintenance is required. Though many hosting providers guarantee a 99.9% uptime.
Good hosting providers back their uptime guarantee with a reimbursement policy in their service level agreement (SLA). Many hosting providers also have a status page on their website, from where you can see the status of their network, connections, servers’ health etc.
WordPress hosting pricing
The idiom you get what you pay for applies to WordPress hosting providers as well. Although not always, in most cases the more you pay the better the service will be.
A shared and managed WordPress hosting services for a single website you can cost from $5 and $10 a month. The prices of dedicated server hosting vary a lot though, but for just $20 a month you can get a dedicated server. For managed WordPress hosting, you need to pay between $30 and $50 a month for a good service.
Tip: many providers have long terms plans. For example if you pay up front for a year you get 20% discount. Ask your hosting provider for such offers before subscribing.
Additional services from WordPress hosting providers
The below is a list of additional services which even though are not mandatory features, they are typically provided by hosting providers who specialize in WordPress hosting.
WordPress backups: As a security best practise, segregate your backups from your hosting provider. If your hosting service has support included, use it as well. There is no harm in having two backups.
Staging Website: A staging website is a copy of your live website but only accessible to you. The staging website allows you to preview changes before publishing them on the live website. If you go for a non-managed WordPress hosting service, you can still manually create your own staging website, but having it available at a click of a button is convenient.
Free HTTPS certificate: Almost all WordPress hosting providers have free TLS certificate, so you can run your WordPress website on HTTPS.
Caching solution: You can implement your own caching solution with a plugin, or use a CDN. However, many web hosts, especially those which specialize in WordPress have customized WordPress caching solution.
Choosing the WordPress hosting provider that fits your requirements
Every business has its unique requirements, so what works for us does not necessarily work for you and vice versa. When choosing a WordPress hosting solution read our recommendations, however, also see what others are saying online about them, such as on websites such as Hosting Reviews. Get in touch with the hosting providers and ask any question you might have.