If you’ve found this article using the search engines looking for pre-purchase research on hosting services for WordPress sites, you’ve earned a solid pat on the back.
The reason for this is that WordPress hosting represents one of the most aggressively competitive markets on the Internet and, as such, it’s bestowed with an abundance of pitfalls and misinformation. With the success and longevity of your website at stake, proper research prior to a good choice is critical. Hosting companies are forever vying for an edge over the competition to tempt potential customers with everything from increasingly lower monthly fees to special offers. Free cheese is only to be found on mousetraps and this analogy holds in good stead in the WordPress hosting market. In this article, we’re going to navigate you through some of the primary considerations in addition to giving you an oversight on five of the top services out there.
What Type of Hosting Service Do You Need?
Most decent hosting services can customise your package, tailoring it to your specific needs. However, broadly speaking, there are five different types of hosting of which to be aware.
Free Hosting Every now and then, you’ll come across free WordPress hosting services. As mentioned, and as with everything, services such as this always carry a catch. It’s not uncommon for people to try and cover the costs of their own WordPress hosting service by renting out a small part of their own server. You’ll have limited control of your service and it can go down at any time, leaving you with no idea what’s going. Downtime will cost you rankings in Google which may cost you money and potentially your reputation.
Shared WordPress Hosting
The primary benefits of shared web hosting services is that they’re cost-effective. This is the most popular type of WordPress hosting by a considerable margin and a good starting place for beginners to WordPress sites. Essentially, your WordPress website is hosted on a server shared with many other services. As your website traffic grows, it’s likely you’ll be politely asked to upgrade your account. If this happens, it’s worth doing so and hopefully the extra money received by then will cover the costs.
Virtual Private Server
A virtual private server (or VPS) consists of one physical computer is partitioned via software into several virtual machines. While you’re still sharing your physical server hardware with other users, you’ll see considerably more control over the back-end of your server as it appears as a dedicated one. You’ll be able to install more softwares more easily, idealt for the intermediate webmasters who usually use this option. If your technical knowledge of hosting is limited, a good option can be to opt for and managed version.
For those happy to pay a little extra money or for those who are forced to do so due to a mild case of technophobia, managed servers represent an excellent choice. There’s very little to worry about as maintainance and upgrades are taken care of for you. Good hosting companies offering managed packages would take care of software updates, website back-ups, informing you of any plug-ins affecting the service and the negative fashion and usually much more.
Cloud servers are a relatively new technology and are continually increasing in popularity. The primary benefits of opting for a cloud server is that you never have to worry about your service going down and you can scale your package as your website traffic increases. For most web hosting services, this can be done by simple presses if a few control panel buttons to add extra nodes.
A dedicated server is the choice of the professional Webmaster who either owns or administrates large, established websites. You have your own private machine and have control over everything from the operating system to the hardware installed. It’s worth considering a dedicated server only when your WordPress site has become more established and is generating both an appropriate amount of traffic and revenue. Likewise, it’s best to have an intermediate to advanced understanding of managing hosting services.
What Specifications are Needed?
One of the reasons WordPress is such a popular option is that the specifications required are universally available. Just about any hosting service will be amply capable of hosting your WordPress websites but, for the purposes of clarification, it must be compatible with the following two requirements:
- PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL version 5.0 or greater
It would more difficult to find hosting service which did not meet the specifications for WordPress than it would be to find ones that did, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this side of things.
The Hosting Marketplace
Due to the competitive nature of this market space, hosters of WordPress websites pay significant sums of money to sign up technology bloggers as affiliates to recommend their services. Once this significant percentage of the profits is paid out, what’s left must be divided into the of hardware needed to produce high speeds for customers and to pay people’s wages to produce valuable customer support. These two latter factors should be a primary considerations of what makes a good service, so don’t be lulled in by a particularly low monthly fee.
The price-to-performance ratio for most server hardware usually improves at an exponential rate and so factors such as this are less of a problem. The potential pitfall here is that it’s difficult to tell these two important factors prior to having signed up for the service. All of the web hosting services we’ve chosen score highly in both customer support and speed. WordPress hosting is extremely affordable and the diversity of packages available is extensive on just about any service. For this reason, we’re going to take a look at the key benefits in what differentiates these services from the rest.
The Best WordPress Hosts at a Glance
1. Fat Cow
If this is your first time hosting your website then all the different interfaces and options can be quite intimidating. Fat Cow has put together a package and interface kept both colourfully interesting and user friendly. The cartoony style opted for here makes for a smoother transition into the world of web mastery for the uninitiated which might be more appealing to more creative types. This is simplified shared hosting at its best without the need for technical wizardry to get the job done.
2. West Host
West Host is a more complete hosting service which is still managable to novice webmasters with for small blogs or websites and relatively small traffic numbers. The vast majority of WordPress sites will not receive over 1,000 visitors a day and, if yours falls into this bracket, West Host provides a simple interface, rapid loading speeds, good flexibility in add-ons and software and exceptional customer care. The company is owned by UK2 Group who is in turn owned by Lloyd’s Investment Capital, a fact which means the money is there to set up a solid customer service centre. Furhtermore, you know it’s not about to drop out of existence any time soon.
3. VPS Net
VPS Net is a sister company of West Host and is primarily geared towards cloud-based hosting packages. With the same solid foundation in customer support, VPS Net is a great option for somebody who starts off small with West Host and then wants to transfer over to a scalable package the growing website. As that transfer is between sister companies, it will be incredibly smooth, free and won’t risk any downtime.
4. Just Host
Just Host has taken an excellent angle of approach to differentiate itself from the competition. This is another company geared towards shared hosting services and boasts a moneyback guarantee option at any time during your contract. In addition to offering customers the necessary website speed and excellent customer care, there is only ever one flat-rate price to pay for unlimited storage space, email and bandwidth. Anyone looking for a simple package for a basic or lite website or blog will have a smooth time with this company, especially if you know you can take advantage of the unlimited part of the package.
For those that feel a managed option would be the most pragmatic solution, we’re finishing up with a highly recommended managed option. Synthesis is a company created by Copy Blogging Media which means it was founded on an incredible wealth of experience. If you find yourself short time or inclination to keep on top of site maintenance, there’s no one better for the job. Synthesis was built by people with front-line experience anda better understanding of what WordPress publishers need then you’ll find anywhere else