When you’re creating a WordPress website one of the first things you need to think about is your choice of web host. Sadly, a lot of people end up neglecting their choice of web host and their sites end up suffering as a result. By choosing a reliable WordPress host your site will be high performing, secure, and online when your users need it the most.
Below we dive into the ins and outs of WordPress hosting, and highlight some of the main hosts you should considering throughout your WordPress hosting search.
Since WordPress is such a commonly used CMS you’ll find a variety of different hosting types and server configurations that cater to WordPress sites. From your basic shared host all the way up to managed and dedicated hosting environments.
Below you’ll learn about the key differences between the various WordPress hosting types available, so you have a better idea of the WordPress hosting type that’ll be the best fit for your website.
If you want free hosting for your WordPress site, then you’ll have to go through WordPress.com. Note that if you choose this option your domain name will include the wordpress.com extension, so ‘yourdomain.wordpress.com’. Although you won’t have the prettiest or most brandable domain name, you can have your site up in a matter of minutes.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to running your own site on a dedicated domain, then using this hosting option can be a great first step. The downside to this approach is that you don’t have your own dedicated domain name and there will be limits to what you can do with your site. Having your own branded domain name means that you can brand yourself under your own domain name and have things like a domain-specific email address, rather than just having a site on a subdomain of WordPress.com
If you’d like to learn more about WordPress.com and WordPress.org, then check out this detailed comparison between WordPress and WordPress.com.
Most website owners end up starting with a shared host. Typically it’s one of the cheapest options and offers a ton of resources to help beginners get started online. Using a shared host means that your site will be on the same server that hosts hundreds of other sites, so you’ll be sharing the same server resources, but it also helps to bring individual costs down.
Shared hosting is a great option as it’s very affordable and will usually run you anywhere from $5-$7 per month. Plus, you get access to some pretty powerful and useful hosting features. Shared plans are typically sold with ‘unlimited’ bandwidth and storage. Typically this is a misdirection because the performance bottleneck you’ll experience has to deal with processing power and not your bandwidth or storage.
Now a shared server will provide you with enough processing power so your site can handle thousands of visitors a day without too big of a dip in performance. But, as your site grows and has a lot of visitors visiting the site concurrently, you’ll want to upgrade your plan to either a VPS, dedicated server, or other managed solution. When you’re choosing a shared host make sure to choose one that allows you to upgrade your service, as this will usually be easier than migrating your entire site to a new server.
Your shared host will provide you with a web-based interface like cPanel, so you can easily manage your server environment. Plus, you’ll be able to do things like create domain-specific email addresses, setup databases, and easily install WordPress on your site via software like one-click install or Softaculous.
Installing WordPress the manual way isn’t too difficult either, but by using one-click installers you can have WordPress up and running on your site in a matter of minutes. These installers handle every aspect of the installation process including setting file permissions, so all future WordPress core, theme, and plugins updates can happen seamlessly all within your WordPress dashboard.
A VPS is a great in-between solution for sites that might have outgrown a shared server, but aren’t quite big enough that they need their own dedicated server. A VPS server is still technically a shared server, but it operates similarly to a dedicated server environment.
VPS servers utilize machine virtualization so that your server environment is running in isolation from other sites on the server. This style of server will typically have fewer sites utilizing the same physical server and you’ll have more direct server access than a shared hosting account will provide.
There are some benefits to using a VPS setup, over something like a shared hosting setup. For starters, you’ll have much more control over your server environment and you’ll have more server configuration options. A VPS will be more expensive than a shared hosting plan, but with that price increase, you’ll have much more server power and overall flexibility at your disposal. But, there are cheaper VPS options available. Finally, your VPS server will operate in an isolated server environment, so you’ll have improved security overall.
Your VPS will typically come equipped with a control panel like WHM, which will make server management and configuration much easier.
However, a VPS server isn’t perfect. Although you have more control over server settings you don’t have complete freedom and you’ll still run into hardware limitations. But, unless you require a very specific server setup it’ll probably be enough. Also, since a VPS requires more detailed server setup and configuration you’ll need to have the technical skills to maintain your own server. Your hosting support team might be able to help you with certain issues, but the overall maintenance will fall on your shoulders.
If your site continues to grow both in terms of size and levels of traffic, but you don’t have the capacity, time, or skills to manage your own server environment, then managed WordPress hosting can be the perfect solution for you. Managed WordPress hosting is available for dedicated, VPS, and cloud hosting plans.
Managed hosting can be a great fit if you don’t have the skills to effectively manage and optimize your server environment, or are short on time and want to put all of your effort on your site’s growth, and you can justify the added expense of hosting.
With managed hosting, you’re not only paying for the server space, but you’re paying for the support and maintenance team that’s fully behind your site’s success. Depending on the managed host you choose you’ll have access to different levels of support, but you’ll typically find the following included in your plan:
One of the biggest reasons to consider a managed WordPress host is the ability to have your problems handled swiftly and effectively. The dedicated team behind you will have in-depth knowledge of WordPress and your server environment, so your site can overcome issues rather swiftly.
When your website is down you’re losing money and turning off users who visit your site. In this regard using a managed WordPress host can actually end up saving you money, or paying itself off over the course of the year. This is especially true considering the additional cost of a full-time technology expert to needed to maintain and optimize your server environment.
Dedicated hosting is the top of the heap when it comes to hosting and the logical next step for those who want complete control over their server environment. If your site ends up being a huge success, then you’ll ultimately want to upgrade to a dedicated server. However, a VPS solution will typically be enough for 98% of all websites.
A dedicated server offers you an entire physical server hosted with your provider of choice. This will give you complete access to your server’s disk space, processing power, memory, bandwidth, and more. Plus, you’ll have complete control over your server’s security.
The biggest difference between shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting is that with a dedicated host you have complete control over your server environment while having all of its resources at your disposal.
Typically, if you require this level of hosting you’ll either have the skills to manage your own server or will be able to hire out the service. Most dedicated server providers will also offer a managed solution, which will take the burden away from managing and keeping your server up to date.
Dedicated hosting is suited towards larger sites are larger and receive a high volume of traffic. But, with the much-improved performance, you will be paying higher costs, and you’ll need a decent amount of technical knowledge to fully take advantage of the server resources you have available.
If you spend enough time browsing around different types of WordPress hosting, then you’ve probably come across a variety of dirt cheap hosting offers that are around $1 or less per month. This sounds like a good deal doesn’t it? $12 bucks a year for hosting, sign me up.
However, these hosting deals are almost always too good to be true. Companies who provide this level of hosting that’s very friendly on the wallet generally have good intentions. But, when you’re only charging people this much you simply can’t provide the level of support and performance that most WordPress site owners require.
One of the biggest costs for most hosting companies is support, so when you end up choosing a budget-level host you’re probably not going to get access to a stellar support team. Which means when you have an issue with your site you’ll be left on your own to solve it. Or, when your site goes offline you’ll be stuck waiting, not able to reach a support tech for clarity on the issue.
The best approach is to stick with a reputable WordPress host that has a solid and helpful support team and a verifiable track record. Now, no host is going to be perfect, but it’s always a good idea to go with a host that’ll be there when you need them the most. Your time and peace of mind are worth more than a few dollars a month.
One of the bigger decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a WordPress host is deciding between unmanaged and managed WordPress hosting. Typically, managed hosting will be higher cost, but there are some other differences you’ll want to know about as well.
With managed hosting basically everything regarding your server and site management are going to be taken care of by the host. This means that things like your site’s security, uptime, updates, and server configuration will be things you don’t have to think about.
With un-managed hosting, you’re basically given a blank server and it’s up to you to install WordPress, manage your server, upgrade your security, optimize for performance, and more.
Don’t let the word un-managed scare you off. It is entirely possible to manage your own hosting, especially if you have a smaller WordPress site and want to spend time learning the ins and outs of the platform.
However, using a managed host will give you advantages like:
Overall, whether you choose to go managed or unmanaged depends upon how much responsibility you want to take on regarding your hosting environment. If you prefer to do it all yourself, then unmanaged can be a great way to learn about the ins and outs of WordPress. But, if you prefer not to think twice about your hosting and want to let an experienced team handle it, so you can focus on your site, then check out WordPress managed hosting.
If you’re in doubt you can always start with an unmanaged hosting environment and upgrade to a managed host in time.
Choosing a great WordPress host right out of the gate is a great way to avoid future hosting headaches. The last thing you want is to choose the wrong host, run into a bunch of issues, and then have to go through the entire site migration process. With the number of options available for WordPress hosting, there’s no excuse for making a poor hosting decision.
Some of the things you’ll want to keep an eye out for when evaluating WordPress hosts include:
The points above might seem like a lot to account for, but choosing a WordPress web host is something you’ll want to take seriously. As you begin your search you’ll see that a lot of the features highlighted above are commonplace. Since the WordPress hosting market is so competitive you’ll generally be able to find a high-quality host at a price you can afford.
Now that you have an understanding of what kind of high quality features a good WordPress host will have we’ll take a look at the minimum requirements your host needs to have to support your WordPress site.
Luckily, WordPress has some pretty basic requirements that’ll run on just about any Linux server environment. Chances are almost every host you’ll come across will support WordPress considering it’s used on nearly 30% of all websites. Still, it’s important to be aware of the specific requirements.
To run WordPress you need the following:
If your host currently runs or supports the two requirements above, then you have enough to run a WordPress site. Any web server that supports PHP and MySQL is good, but it’s recommended to also seek out a host that uses the Apache web server, and more specifically one that can enable to Apache mod_rewrite module, as this will let you enable the friendly URL feature of WordPress.
As long as you choose a reputable hosting company that’s been around for a while, then chances are they’ll be able to support and accomplish the above technical task. If you’re unsure, then you can get in touch with support and ask them if they do enable the mod_rewrite module in Apache before you decide to sign up. It’s recommended to use hosts that run Apache, alongside Linux, PHP, and MySQL.
Below we highlight some of the best WordPress hosts you’ll want to consider throughout your search for the perfect host. The hosts profiled below offer you a blend of various forms of WordPress hosting, like those mentioned above.
Bluehost offers a very cheap shared WordPress hosting plan. Note that the hosting plan lengths are between 12 and 36 months, so they do require a longer commitment, but with the heap monthly costs, it still doesn’t feel like that much money down.
Bluehost will offer you features like:
You’ll also get access to Bluehost’s support team 24/7. Their support staff is very helpful and responsive and will help you work through site issues very quickly. If you’re looking for the most value out of what you’re paying for a WordPress host, then Bluehost should be at the top of your list.
Siteground is one of the most commonly used WordPress shared hosts. With its fast speeds, great customer support, and high levels of security it’s a great bargain for the features you get. It’s also one of the four hosts recommended by WordPress.org.
Siteground’s shared WordPress hosting will offer you features like:
Beyond the features above you’ll also get access to a dedicated support team 24/7. With the various hosting packages offered, you’ll surely find one that’s the perfect fit for your WordPress website.
HostGator is a well-known hosting provider for the beginner hosting space. However, they also offer stellar WordPress cloud hosting packages that are equipped with a 99% uptime guarantee. You’ll find three different WordPress specific packages that cater to single site users all the way up to those running multiple websites.
Some of the features offered by HostGator’s WordPress hosting include:
The package you choose will depend on how many sites you run and your overall traffic levels. If you’re looking for an easily scalable WordPress host that’ll grow with your site without breaking the bank, then check out HostGator.
Beyond the WordPress cloud hosting option above you can also opt for a cheaper shared WordPress hosting plan.
Liquid Web offers a range of WordPress specific hosting packages including, VPS, dedicated, dedicated cloud, and managed WordPress hosting. They’re definitely in the upper tier of WordPress hosts available. With Liquid Web you’ll get stellar performance, easy to use site management tools, and rock-solid security.
Some additional features offered by Liquid Web include:
Overall, Liquid Web is a very high performance and easy to scale host. Plus, they offer in-depth developer tools like having direct access to your MySQL databases, SSH access, and Git version control.
InMotion offers you a feature-rich WordPress hosting environment. With InMotion, you get access to a WordPress optimized server environment along with a dedicated support team behind you every step of the way. InMotion also offers a variety of WordPress-specific features like WordPress pre-installation, drag and drop theme support, along with a selection of free WordPress themes to choose from.
Some additional features offered by InMotion include:
For those looking for a WordPress shared host that offers a bit more in regards to WordPress specific features, then InMotion is definitely a host worth considering.
WPEngine offers a wide range of managed WordPress hosting packages that cater to a variety of different website owners. Along with their range of packages, you’ll get access to a very high performing host that has a stellar support team and top notch security.
WPEngine offers you features like:
Now, WPEngine doesn’t have features like email hosting, and they don’t allow for the use of some pretty popular WordPress plugins. With that aside, WPEngine is an incredibly high-performance host that’s a great it for sites that receive a high volume of traffic.
Pressable is a solid WordPress managed host that caters to a few different user groups. Namely, agencies and developers, WooCommerce store owners, and enterprise site owners. Pressable can support your site all the way up to getting multiple millions of pageviews per month.
Pressable will offer you WordPress hosting features like:
Overall, one of Pressable’s greatest strengths is its commitment to customer support. Regardless of the issue you into when building, growing, or launching your site, the Pressable team will be behind you every step of the way.
Pagely has been in the hosting business for a long time. Their hosting packages cater to the higher end of the market for high traffic sites that demand high performance and security. Plus, with the integrated backend Amazon AWS servers, you’ll get access to advanced developer features that are hard to find elsewhere.
Some of Pagely’s features include:
Pagely specializes in redundancy, scalability, and custom built site security features, so if these are big deciding factors, then they’re definitely a host worth considering.
DreamHost offers you a cost-effective managed WordPress solution called DreamPress. Even though it’s more affordable the range of packages still enables you to scale your site without having to migrate hosts. Their package offerings range from complete beginners all the way up to experienced webmasters running very high traffic websites.
Some of the features of DreamPress include:
If you’ve already been using DreamHost to run your website and are looking to upgrade to a managed WordPress package, then this could be the solution you’re looking for. Plus, with its easy scalability, you don’t have to worry about a future site migration.
Beyond the managed WordPress hosting highlighted above DreamHost also offers a reasonable shared WordPress hosting plan as well.
If your site runs on the Genesis WordPress theme and you’re looking for a managed WordPress hosting solution it’ll be hard to beat Synthesis. This managed solution is unique in that your site must be running on Genesis to utilize this service.
The advantage to this is that your entire hosting platform will be completely optimized for the theme and plugins you use. The Synthesis managed solution can be found at the highest level plan offered.
Some of the features you’ll get access to with Synthesis include:
Plus, with a Genesis-specific support team behind your site and hosting, issues will be a thing of the past. If you’re currently a Genesis user who’s been looking to upgrade to a managed host, then Synthesis is an incredible choice.
If sorting through the above WordPress hosts sounds like a lot, then check out our recommendations below. You’ll find two hosts that offer shared hosting packages that cater well to beginners, and another that offers the best WordPress managed hosting for large-scale and growing sites.
For bloggers who are just starting out and need a WordPress hosting option that’s both cost-effective and reliable, then Bluehost is going to be a great choice. Overall, they’re one of the best WordPress hosting providers available to get started and grow your site with.
Personally, I have two of my own blogs hosted with Bluehost and am a huge fan of their performance and superb customer service. Beyond its high performing servers, you’ll also have stellar uptime and a dedicated and helpful support team behind you. Plus, Bluehost is one of the only hosts recommended by WordPress.org.
Some valuable Bluehost features include:
If you want to get the best deal with Bluehost, then you can currently get their high quality hosting for just $2.95 per month (with a 36-month contract), along with a free domain name. But, the sale will end soon, so you’ll want to act fast.
If you’re planning on scaling up your content and traffic rather quickly, then we recommend you upgrade to the Plus Package for $5.45 per month. This will give you access to a greater level of features including, unlimited website and email account creation, and unlimited site bandwidth.
Overall, you won’t be able to find a better price for this quality of shared WordPress hosting, especially with the above discounts.
If your website is currently growing and you want a hosting environment that can keep up while improving the existing performance of your site, then WPEngine is the way to go. In my opinion, WPEngine is the gold standard when it comes to WordPress hosting providers.
Naturally, it’s going to be a much more expensive option than shared hosting, but it’s priced higher for good reason. With WPEngine you get a knowledgeable team of WordPress experts who are dedicated to helping your site grow. WPEngine is the host used to host this very site.
They offer a world-class service and support team, plus the hosting infrastructure is designed to make sure that WordPress runs fast and smooth. Now, using a managed WordPress host isn’t going to be the right fit for every style of website, but for those who are prepared to spend a bit more money every month to ensure your hosting is in great hands, then WPEngine is definitely the place to go.
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of WPEngine and what it can offer you, then check out this review.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you should look for in a host, as well as some great WordPress hosting recommendations it’s time to cover some of the most common questions relating to WordPress hosting.
Do I need domain and hosting from the same provider?
No, you can get your domain and hosting from separate providers. However, if you don’t already have a domain name it can be easier and cheaper to choose a WordPress hosting plan that offers a free domain upon signup.
Do WordPress and eCommerce work together?
Yes, WordPress can easily be used to build and support a full-fledged eCommerce site. In regards to your host, you can also purchase an SSL certificate to improve your security of sitewide purchases. In some cases, a free SSL certificate may even be included with your hosting package.
What’s the best way to improve the security of my WordPress site?
Your hosting choice will go a long way towards the overall security of your website. However, there are additional plugins you can utilize that will improve the security of your WordPress site. Using things like a CDN, and having strong passwords on your site will also improve its overall security.
Can I migrate to a different WordPress host down the road?
Yes, if you’re unhappy with, or you’ve outgrown your existing hosting package, then you can definitely move to another provider. The migration process might be a little intense for those just starting out. However, most hosting companies offer a free migration service when you’re switching over, which will greatly simplify the process on your end.
How long of a plan should I purchase?
Ultimately, it’s up to you and depends on your hosting needs. Overall, going with a longer plan will end up being the cheapest in the long run, even though you have to pay more money up front. While going with the month-to-month option will cost more over the course of the year, but it gives you the freedom to move hosts if you’re still on the fence.
Hopefully, all the information above will help you choose the perfect host for your WordPress website and answer any common questions or concerns you had related to choosing a WordPress host.
Any questions related to WordPress hosting we didn’t answer above? Ask away in the comments below.