Minimum WordPress Hosting Requirements
If you are still shopping around for hosting for your blog or web site you just need to keep in mind these requirements for running a WordPress environment. Luckily for you WordPress has some fairly basic requirements and will run on just about any Linux based hosting. Indeed a hosting company would be mad not to support WordPress given it is used on around 20% of all websites. That said, it pays to be aware of the specific requirements, namely:
To run WordPress your host just needs a couple of things:
- PHP version 5.2.4 or greater (recommended: PHP 5.4 or greater)
- MySQL version 5.0 or greater (recommended: MySQL 5.5 or greater)
And that’s it!
If you have these two then the latest version of WordPress will run great. Of course Hostgator, Bluehost and WP Engine are all good to go. Any web server that supports PHP and MySQL is good, but our recommendation is always to seek out a host that uses the Apache web server, and specifically can enable the Apache mod_rewrite module as you will need this to enable the friendly URL features of WordPress.
As long as you use a reputable and experienced web hosting company then the chances are that this will be the case. If you are unsure we suggest asking them if they do enable the mod_rewrite module in Apache by default before signing up. We recommend you use hosts that run Apache only because along with Linux, PHP and MySQL It really is the most commonly used platform so you can always find people who can help either professionally or via the WordPress support forums.
Different Types of WordPress Hosting Available
Making sure you sign up for a host that handles WordPress is actually fairly easy (as almost everyone covers the basic WP hosting requirements), but still there are various levels of service that you can go for, and your choice will ulitmately depend on your needs…
There is really only one option if you want free WordPress hosting, and that is to go with WordPress.com. You can sign up and have your own site hosted at yourname.wordpress.com in a matter of minutes. If you are not sure if you are ready to commit to a running your own site on a dedicated domain then this is a great first step. The downside is that you don’t have your own dedicated domain, and for many people that is a big downside… having your own domain means you can brand yourself (and have a branded email address) rather than being a subdomain on WordPress.com. If you want to know more then read my comparison of WordPress and WordPress.com
This is where most new webmasters start out. Shared hosting means you will be on a server hosting hundreds of sites, which means you share the resources and costs of the server. It is a great option because it is affordable (starting at $5-7/mth) and you still get most of the features of a more powerful set up. Shared hosting plans are often sold as ‘unlimited’ bandwidth and storage which is a bit of a misdirection in a way because the performance bottle neck isn’t going to be bandwidth or storage, it’s going to be processing power.
A shared server will provide your site with plenty of processing power for thousands of visitors a day, but if your site grows to an extent that it has lots of concurrent users then you are going to want to upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server & for this reason I recommend that you go with a shared host who offers a decent number of upgrade options. Shared hosts always provide you with a web based interface like cPanel to manage the various elements of your site, including email setup, databases and typically offer easy installation tools for all the popular web site software packages, including WordPress.
WordPress isn’t all that difficult to install manually in any event, but the 1-click installers do make it faster and ensure that all the file permissions are set right so that future updates to core WordPress, your themes and your plugins are all easily managed via the usual WordPress admin area.
A VPS server is the next step up from shared hosting. It is also shared in the sense that your VPS will run on a physical server with other clients, but the server will normally be hosting less clients and you also will have some low level access to the servers administrative functions. It runs in effect like your own dedicated server, but on a server with other users. VPS hosting plans will typically come equipped with a control panel like WHM which allows even non-technical users to manage the various server functions via a web interface. For this reason a VPS is a great option if you are a designer/developer who wants to offer hosting to your clients, but doesn’t want to mess with low level system administration. Take a look at some cheaper VPS packages available on the market as well.
If your site has grown increasingly popular, and you need the additional capacity, but do you have the time, the knowledge or the staff on hand to deal with server operations then managed hosting might be a great option for you. Once applicable only to dedicated plans, managed WordPress Hosting services can now be had for VPS, cloud or co-location hosting as well. It’s an option to consider if you:
- Lack the necessary expertise to properly administer the space.
- Have the skills but you are short on time to manage a server
- Can justify the extra expense.
With managed hosting, you are renting not only the server but also its support team. Costs can vary. Depending on your choice of host, your benefits will include:
- Trouble-shooting and maintenance.
- Software installations and upgrades.
- Hardware repairs and server monitoring.
- Greater security and peace of mind.
Faster problem resolution could provide the biggest benefit. A website that is down means money is lost. The dedicated knowledge and experience of the web host’s staff can get you back in action in a hurry. In spite of the extra fees, managed hosting solutions can still save you money. Under these plans, you will likely pay less for such essentials as software, hardware, server space and bandwidth. In addition, it is relatively low cost and is certain to trump the expense of hiring even one technology expert.
For managed WordPress hosting I recommend WP Engine.
If your site is a huge success then you will ultimately want to get your own dedicated server (though for 98% of all business sites and blogs a shared server or VPS is more than enough). This means you’ll have your own physical server hosted in the providers location, dedicated to just you. There are many levels of server you can lease, from small cheap servers all the way up to high capacity servers with a lot of processing power. The important difference from shared and VPS type offerings is that you will have complete control over your hosting environment. If you get to this level you probably have your own system administration resource, though most dedicated server providers can also provide a managed solution (which of course costs more).
Hosting companies to avoid
If you spend enough time looking around at the various WordPress hosting offers out there you will come across plenty of cheap hosting offers of $1/mth. Sounds pretty good right? $12/yr for your hosting…I mean, what could go wrong? In my experience these ‘too good to be true’ deals always end badly. The companies providing this type of hosting might have the best intentions, but the fact is they can’t possibly provide the level of support you want for that kind of money. They can only hope to make money by doing serious volume and keeping their costs low.
In the hosting game the biggest cost is people so that means less support. The few dollars you might save per year will not seem worthwhile the first time you have an outage and can’t reach anyone for days.
My advice is always to stick to reputable companies with a real track record and real support. No host is perfect, and from time to time you are going to need some support, so best to go with a host that you know will always be there when you need them.
Your time and peace of mind is worth more than a few dollars a month.