When you go to Google and type “how to create a website” (sometimes you go deeper into your search and add “for my [industry] business” to that query), you will find millions and millions and results on how you can create one using WordPress. After all, it powers more than 30% of the websites right now, so it makes sense to have it pop up pretty much everywhere. The point I’m trying to make here is not to teach you how to take your business online (you can read this article for that). No, one of the first steps in creating a website is choosing where it will live, hence you need to know how to choose the right hosting provider and for that, you have this WordPress hosting guide.
A few things you need to know about hosting
- A web hosting server is what makes your files and resources for your site available on the internet.
- Web hosting can be divided into four main types: shared, dedicated, virtual private servers and managed hosting. I’ll explain them throughout this chapter, so you can know which one to choose.
- Resist the temptation to pick only based on price. You know what they say: ‘you get what you pay for’. In terms of web hosting, this can turn out to be a slow site for you with a lack of good customer support.
The Question People Always Ask, But Don’t Find Out
Let’s begin this WordPress Hosting Guide by explaining what exactly the term web hosting or wordpress hosting means. Websites are pretty much memory disks, collections of files that only work with the right tools. What hosting companies do then is they rent these tools (they’re actually called servers), with the main task to make our memory disk available to the internet. So, once we connect our disk or better yet, upload our site’s files to the server and give people access to it, our hosting serves them to whoever asks for them. They do this by entering the domain name that’s associated with the host.
If you didn’t understand or care that kind of technical explanation, and just want to know how this translates to practice, then good. Web hosting is just you paying for a plan (you rent the server or some space on it), putting your files on it, and associating or pointing your domain name to that server.
When I Enter a Hosting Provider’s Website, There All These Different Options. What Should I Do?
Well, the first thing is to not fear. Because the types of websites vary based on their traffic needs, budget and other factors, you’re always going to find many different types of web hosting services. If you’re just going to blog on your website and you’re starting, you most definitely are not going to need as much as space on a server as a two-year eCommerce website with many customers. The amount of space and the resources needed from a host are related to several aspects, like the number of visitors a site gets, the demand of that site, how many images, videos and a lot of other stuff.
So, what are those types of hosting services?
If you think about hosting like a membership plan that has different tiers, this one would be the basic. This one is always the most inexpensive solution to host a website. But like we said at the beginning, don’t be tempted by price, because a shared hosting plan means that your website will be on a space with other websites (hundreds of websites can share the same space, so you won’t know which ones you’re sharing with) and if the traffic on that server’s websites starts to increase, your website may become slower.
Even if you’re starting out, I usually never recommend this plan, and I do it because of experience. I had a couple of websites in the past hosted here because the price was so cheap, and they were just blogs with maybe like 6 posts each, yet they took forever to load and that is with speed optimization in place (if you don’t know what that is or how to implement it, read our speed optimization guide).
For about $4 per month, you can get a shared hosting plan. Keep in mind that you’re going to be paying this on a yearly basis and that there may be hidden costs when you get to the checkout page.
If you’re a control-freak and like to get nitty-gritty with the tech side of server stuff or if your budget allows for a developer, you can get a dedicated hosting, as they give you whole control over the server. Big sites that pull in a lot of traffic benefit more from these sites.
When I say whole control, it’s just how you read it. When you’re on a dedicated hosting plan, you can make changes to the server to improve all aspects of your site. The best of all is, that on a dedicated hosting, your site isn’t sharing anything with anybody. The space you rent for your site is only for your site.
However, as uncle Ben said great power comes with great responsibility, having a dedicated server means that you’re also responsible for server maintenance stuff. It doesn’t mean that you will need to be putting out fires everyday, but you will need some knowledge on server administration to keep everything clean and functioning.
All of the increased features that you get with a dedicated hosting plan also mean higher costs. They can start at around $100/month.
VPS stands for virtual private server. This type of hosting plan is kind of like in the middle between the previous two explained types, where in there are a number of virtual servers that the physical server is distributed to. This type of hosting plan is somewhat cheaper than the dedicated, as various virtual servers can be in one single physical server, and you can rent out one of the virtual servers.
The point where VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting is the fact that many people may be sharing the same physical server, making it basically an advanced type of shared hosting. But it is more powerful than a shared hosting plan because when it comes VPS hosting, there usually aren’t many websites on a physical server.
If you’re thinking about using WordPress for selling your products and you think you can get your site pretty quickly in Google rankings and get traffic fast, this type of server is ideal to begin with and only after your traffic gets consistent enough to the point your site gets slower, then you scale to a dedicated hosting plan.
Pricing is another aspect where they’re like a middle ground between shared and dedicated, because at usually $20 per month (could be more), they’re a bit more pricy than shared hosting but not as expensive as dedicated.
You might also see on some hosting providers, this type of service. The Cloud VPS hosting plan is basically a VPS where not only a single physical server is in place for the several virtual private server, but more. The main benefit for this type of plan is that it is more scalable than simple VPS. However, it is also a bit more expensive, with plans starting at around $80/month.
This is one type of hosting that is very popular, and you can actually see it a lot with the word WordPress added to it. With this type of hosting, you can get the performance of a VPS and a more user-friendliness experience. With this plan, the provider pretty much takes care of all of the server stuff that was previously mentioned, leaving you to only focus on your business.
Several of the known hosts – like WP Engine, Pagely, Bluehost, Dreamhost, etc – offer this type of service, and they’re all usually pretty good, though I can only say for experience that Siteground is the one I’d recommend.
The Million Dollar Question in This Guide: How to choose the right WordPress hosting provider
The crazy amount of hosting providers in the market right now can make it overwhelming to make a decision. You have multiple variables and there is no exact formula to choose the best. So, let’s review what the most important aspect should factor into your decision.
The speed of the hosting server
On this day and age, speed matters. Your needs to load in less than 3 seconds for you to get conversions and although you can make some customizations to your website to improve speed, the hosting service heavily impacts on that. When you’re reviewing hosting plans, either on other blog posts or the very own hosting provider’s page, look for the technical stuff, like the hardware for the server and that stuff. Also take a look at the data centers and server locations based on your audience. You’re not going to want a provider with data centers only in the EU if your target audience is primarily in the US and vice-versa.
How many resources are available to you
Before you make a decision, key things you need to check are the available bandwidth and resources. On many hosting provider, you will see the word “unlimited”, which is not something that you should be swayed by, because if you really think about it, how can all people have unlimited resources?
If not on the pricing page, try checking the terms of service or other pages, because the restrictions that apply to bandwidth and storage are usually listed. Trust me, this is not something to take lightly, because you don’t want to have growth in traffic believing that you have unlimited bandwidth and then seeing your site becoming slower or getting a message from your host. This will allow you to create or at least, think of a scaling plan for the future.
The support. Is it good?
This might sound cliché or something pulled out of the Fyre Festival Netflix documentary, but when a problem arises on your site, you need solutions, not more problems. And trust me, problems will happen, and there are times when whatever you do isn’t fixing it, so you need a good and efficient customer support available. If possible, check how much time the hosting provider you’re considering takes to respond to your message and check if there are multiple ways of communication with them (email, phone number, live chat, etc). Sometimes, the hosting providers that aren’t perfect in terms of resources may turn out the better because of their good support.
Chapter 1’s Final Words
I hope that by now, with this chapter of the WordPress Hosting Guide, you have a basic idea of the what and the how of hosting. You should know that pricing isn’t the end-all be-all for choosing a hosting provider. If you have any questions please let send me your comments and stay tuned for chapter two where I will why I say that Siteground is the best.