If you want to start a blog or WordPress website, you need reliable hosting. Determining the best hosting for WordPress sites can be tricky. There are many different variables that go into what makes a rock solid web host, and many of them have to do with your needs as an individual. You need to worry about budget, whether or not you want a free domain, what type of website you plan on building, how much you plan on growing, and more.
That's what this post is about. We're going to break down everything that surrounds the best hosting for WordPress. We're going to help you make an intelligent decision when it's time for you to choose a hosting company and build your website.
How to Find the Best Hosting for WordPress
Finding the best web hosting for WordPress can be difficult. We've already established that. What we haven't gone over is why you need to find hosting for WordPress in the first place and how WordPress differs from all-in-one platforms like Squarespace. We felt it was best to explain this so you know why you're purchasing hosting.
Why Do You Need to Purchase Hosting for WordPress?
WordPress is what's known as a “Content Management System (CMS)”. In layman's terms, this simply means it's an application that makes it easy for you to manage the various components of a website without needing to know how to code or build this type of application from scratch. Platforms like Squarespace and Wix are content management systems as well. They're simply different forms of it.
WordPress is what's known as an “open-source” CMS. This means anyone can build products and applications for it, and you can install applications from any third-party developer. Because of this, WordPress as an open-source project doesn't offer hosting itself. You're meant to purchase a hosting plan from a hosting company and install WordPress onto it (usually it comes already pre-installed). WordPress is available for download as a free application.
How Does WordPress Differ From All-in-One Platforms?
When people compare WordPress to a platform like Squarespace, they're not comparing apples to apples. They're comparing apples to oranges. WordPress is an open-source platform while Squarespace is an all-in-one solution. Therefore, the comparison isn't really fair. That's really what the differences come down to. All-in-one platforms include everything in their plans. This includes hosting, a design for your website, security, backups and more. It's why these platforms are so popular among people who don't know anything about running a website.
However, most people seem to prefer the flexibility and freedom that WordPress offers. There are many reasons to choose an open-source platform over an all-in-one solution. You'll have more hosting providers to choose from, for starters. This means you'll have more control over your content as some hosts claim to own the copyrights to it as well as the right to close your website whenever they please.
It also gives you the freedom to transfer your site with ease if you wind up not liking your host. All you need to do is find another host that supports WordPress. WordPress makes it possible to transfer your site to a new server without experiencing any amount of noticeable downtime. You'll need to design an entirely new website if you ever want to move away from Squarespace or Wix, on the other hand.
Lastly, you'll have many more options for WordPress themes and plugins (think tens of thousands of products), security, backups, and more. That's enough on this topic, however. Let's get into what's required to host and power a WordPress site before we get into the specific hosting options that make up the best hosting for WordPress.
How Does Website Hosting Work?
Websites are powered by servers. These servers are essentially computer systems filled with many of the same components the device you're reading this from uses. This includes a CPU, RAM and a storage drive. The server, much like your device, is also powered by an operating system.
Because web servers are so similar to the computers we already use and can build ourselves, you can technically build and manage a server of your own. However, it's much cheaper and more efficient to “rent” space on a service, which is why we recommend choosing a reliable hosting company. All in all, a website is hosted and built with the following components. Every hosting option is made up of these same components:
- Computer system – Motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage drive, etc.
- Operating system – Usually a server version of Windows or Linux.
- Server software – An application that utilizes the hardware of the server it's installed on to execute functions.
- Database – An application that can store / manage a collection of information and data for a website.
- Code – The actual code that makes up a website's framework and design.
How Does WordPress Web Hosting Work?
All of the components listed above probably seem complicated to some of you, and you know what? They are. That's why we recommend purchasing / renting a server that's already set up for you rather than trying to build and configure all of that on our own. That's what a hosting company will handle for you.
When you purchase a hosting plan, you're purchasing a spot on a server or the entire server itself. That means it already comes with the computer system, operating system, server software and database you need. WordPress sites typically use Apache or nginx as server software while databases are typically handled by MySQL or MariaDB.
WordPress Hosting Options Explained
Learning which hosting options are available to you is a great way to start when determining the best hosting for WordPress. There are essentially four common hosting options available for WordPress:
These usually are the hosting options you'll be deciding between for your website. It's important to note, however, that they aren't individual web hosts nor are they individual hosting plans. Some hosts offer all of these hosting options while others specialize in one. Let's go over a few things to consider before you choose a hosting option. We'll explain each option in depth after that.
Things to Consider Before You Choose a Hosting Option
There are a few things to consider that may affect your decision. A few of them can also be things to consider before you decide on a specific host or hosting plan. Be sure to keep them in mind as you go through the rest of this article.
- Is this your first website?
- Are you technically inclined?
- Are you an experienced web developer?
- Do you want to build an online business?
Is This Your First Website?
The size of the website you need will greatly influence the choice you make. If this is your first or a new website, you often won't need your own server or an expensive amount of specs. If you're moving an existing website to WordPress, you'll likely need a more expensive setup that can handle the existing traffic.
Are You Technically Inclined?
Some hosts leave you with a lot of things to figure out yourself while others handle most of everything for you. Shared hosts often have tools you can use to install WordPress with ease (one-click installs) while VPS hosts, on the other hand, tend to take care of the installation for you. Consider how technically inclined you are and how much you're willing to learn to build a website with WordPress.
Are You an Experienced Web Developer?
WordPress can be a bit of a sandbox, which is great for developers who prefer creating their own code rather than relying on others. If you're an experienced developer, you'll likely want to choose a few specific hosting options and hosts. Many VPS hosts, particularly managed WordPress hosts, tend to have restrictions on what you're able to do with your own website, which can be a problem for some. Others have features specifically for developers, such as site cloning/staging, reseller hosting and more.
Do You Want to Build an Online Business?
WordPress is popular as a blogging platform, but it's capable of building much more than the average blog. You can use it to build a fully-fledged website, online stores, online schools, directory sites, social networking platforms and more. However, if you are using WordPress to build a website for an online business, you may want to stick with more powerful forms of hosting. Speaking of which, let's finally get into the hosting options available for WordPress.
Different Hosting Options to Choose From
What Is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting is a popular blog hosting option for newcomers. All you need to do is look at a few pricing options for shared hosts to see why.
It's not the best hosting for WordPress, but it is capable of powering most new sites for quite some time, so long as you choose a quality host. Let's define shared hosting so you can understand how it works. Remember how we said every hosting option uses the same components but in different ways? Well, with shared hosting, you are getting all of those components, but you're “sharing” them with other websites. You're simply “renting” space on a server.
That's why it's so cheap. It's similar to renting an apartment versus purchasing the entire building for yourself. However, it's also the problem with shared hosting. Every website on that server shares the same set of resources. That means if one website gets hit with a DDoS attack, every website on that server gets hit with a DDoS attack. If one website gets infected with malware, it has the potential to infect other sites as well.
Lastly, shared hosting servers use the least sophisticated hosting setups of all of the hosting options we're going to examine in this post. They rarely use high-end specs, and they use no cloud or virtualization software of any kind.
Who Is Shared Hosting For?
We've more or less already answered this, but shared hosting is best when used for new basic business websites (a blog and a few pages) and blogs. Choose another hosting option if any of the following applies to you:
- You plan on growing quickly with paid promotions (advertisements) or guest blogging.
- You're building an online store and want to run a profitable online business.
- You're building something other than a typical website (online school, social network, support portal, etc.).
- You need to transfer a well-established (medium to high-end traffic) website to WordPress.
What Is VPS Hosting?
VPS hosts make up some of what's considered to be the best hosting for WordPress. VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and VPS hosting is a form of shared hosting. This type of hosting uses an advanced piece of software that creates multiple virtual servers in the same physical space. So, while you are sharing the same physical hardware with other websites, you each have your own virtual space. Hence, “virtual private server”.
There's a specific breed of WordPress hosting called “managed WordPress hosting”. It's a great option for newbies and developers who don't want to go through the trouble of installing and fully managing their WordPress sites. Many managed WordPress hosts use VPS server infrastructures, but some traditional shared hosting companies offer them as well. Managed WordPress hosts usually handle the following for you:
- WordPress installation
- WordPress core updates
- Server monitoring
- CDN (some)
- Site transfers
Who Is VPS Hosting For?
Since each website has its own private server in a VPS hosting infrastructure, they can't affect the speed, performance or security of other websites on the physical server. They're much better suited for medium to high-traffic websites because of this. If you have an established blog or you plan on growing your blog/website quickly, you're usually better off going with VPS hosting. This highly depends on the expected amount of traffic.
Small online stores, online schools, social networks and similar sites should be fine with this type of hosting as well. However, if you're planning on building a high-traffic site/store or plan on doing any form of high-end advertising, you're better off going with one of the other hosting options below.
What Is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is a newer type of hosting, and it's become one of the most affordable ways to take advantage of high-end server technology. Cloud hosts are even becoming some of the best hosting for WordPress, but what are they? Well, VPS servers create multiple virtual servers in the same physical space. A cloud server, however, is a piece of software that connects to a network of computer systems.
This gives cloud servers the ability to scale efficiently. This means if your cloud-hosted site were to ever get hit with a huge surge in traffic (let's say you had your product featured on a national talk show), it would simply draw on more resources as needed to ensure the site stays online without causing a drop in performance. Some managed WordPress hosts use this type of server to power their hosting infrastructures. This includes Kinsta, who relies on Google Cloud Platform. Cloud hosting is more expensive, but ideal if you want to run a professional high-traffic site. If you want to learn more about Kinsta, you can also check out our Kinsta WordPress Hosting Review.
Who Is Cloud Hosting For?
Most experts recommend all online stores to use cloud hosting. This is because this type of server has the ability to draw on more resources to keep itself online should its site ever receive a heavy traffic spike. It's also best suited for high-traffic sites of all kinds.
What Is Dedicated Hosting?
Dedicated hosting is most similar to shared hosting. The only difference is you'll have the entire server “dedicated” to your website and won't have to share it with anyone else. This is also why it's so expensive. Because these servers are so powerful and capable of handling high-traffic websites, their biggest competitors are cloud servers. Here are Bluehost's dedicated hosting plans as an example:
Who Is Dedicated Hosting For?
Because cloud servers are capable of supporting high-traffic websites, more and more large businesses are turning away from dedicated hosting in favor of cloud hosting. Today, dedicated hosting is most recommended for businesses who need to host large databases and big data platforms. However, choosing the best host always depends on your personal requirements. Your IT specialist can help you decide if you need this.
Things to Look for in a WordPress Host
If you're searching for the best hosting for WordPress, you probably want to know what features you're looking for. That's what this next section is for. Here's a quick list of the features we'll be going over:
Compatibility With WordPress
If you're looking for the best hosting for WordPress, you need to choose a host that actually supports WordPress. This shouldn't be too hard seeing as how most hosts support the CMS and even make it simple to install the application with a single click. However, if you aren't sure, just make sure the host supports the following:
- PHP 5.6.20+ (WordPress recommends PHP 7.4 or later)
- MySQL 5.0+ (WordPress recommends MySQL 5.6 or later) or MariaDB 10.1 or later
- Apache or Nginx
- HTTPS support
You probably won't need to worry about this if your site is new, but if you're moving an established site to WordPress or plan on growing your new site quickly, you need to make sure it has enough specs to support you. See what your current server uses, and consult with the new host's support team to see if they can support the amount of traffic and requests your site receives. It's better to be safe than sorry!
This point ties into the last one. It's best to choose a host you can stay with if you ever need to upgrade your server. Let's take Bluehost for example. Sure, you can receive cheap WordPress hosting with a shared hosting plan from Bluehost, but you can also upgrade to VPS hosting, cloud hosting and even dedicated hosting. Bottom line, if you don't want to go through the trouble of having to look for a new host when you outgrow your original plan, choose a host that offers many plans for you to upgrade to.
User-Friendly Control Panel
If you're new to hosting your own website, you may want to choose a host that has a user-friendly control panel. The control panel is what you'll use to manage administrative tasks for your site. This includes installing WordPress, accessing your host's backups, accessing your site's file system and more. Many shared hosts use cPanel while some hosts create their own control panels.
When you're looking for the best hosting for WordPress, you're better off going with a host that's easy to use. This shouldn't be the deciding feature that determines which host you go with, but it should play a small roll in the decision. It's worth mentioning that most modern and professional hosts nowadays offer a good user experience.
This is another feature that shouldn't act as a deciding factor, but you should take it into consideration. “Uptime” refers to the percentage of time your server remains live without downtime. Ideally, your server would be up 100% of the time, but uptime guarantees of 99.9% are not uncommon. An uptime guarantee is a bit of an insurance policy where hosts offer to compensate you should your server go offline for an unacceptable amount of time.
This should be a major consideration in your search for the best hosting for WordPress. In business, time is money, and nothing hurts the company wallet more than downtime from not being able to get ahold of a service provider's support team. Read reviews to ensure your host offers quality customer service, and research the type of support they offer in case they don't offer your preferred type of support.
Your budget will obviously play a huge role in the decision that ultimately leads to the host you decide to host your WordPress website with. However, it's important to note that the cheapest or most expensive hosts don't necessarily make up the best hosting for WordPress.
Top hosting companies come in a variety of different shapes and sizes as do their plans. Your best bet is to consider your budget. Can you afford to pay for a full year upfront, or would you prefer to pay on a month-to-month basis? You should also consider how much you're able to pay in general.
Lastly, be careful when hosts showcase monthly prices. Some hosts list their prices in monthly format despite them requiring you to pay for at least a year upfront. Just make sure you pay attention to the “Total Amount Due Today” part of the sign-up process. If you're looking for high-quality hosting, also keep in mind you usually get what you pay.
Backups and Security
Backups and security have become standard features in the best hosting for WordPress. Don't consider a host that doesn't offer some form of either of these features. What you should look out for in particular, however, are the types of backups and security offered. Nothing can harm your website and reputation more than hacked or spam-link-infested sites, especially when search engines blacklist that site.
If you go with shared hosting, you'll likely only receive basic security at the server level and will need to figure out how to secure your WordPress site on your own. A managed host, on the other hand, will usually handle all levels of security for you. The security aspect of your website shouldn't be taken lightly.
Installation & Transfer Services
If you're new to WordPress and unwilling to figure out how to use it on a technical level, you may want to consider a host that offers free installations or site transfers. You can also make sure you choose a host that makes it easy to install WordPress at the very least. Most hosting companies nowadays offer one-click WordPress installs.
This likely won't be a big deal if you aren't tech savvy. If you are, you may want to steer clear of some managed WordPress hosts as they're infamous for disallowing certain WordPress plugins on their servers. This is mainly due to the fact that they handle backups, security and caching for you, so they don't want a plugin (which is more or less an extra bit of code added to your site) interfering with their service.
The features listed above are all you should need to host a WordPress site, but if you're looking for the best hosting for WordPress, you may want to consider taking a few additional features into consideration. This includes SSL certificates. This protects your site by encrypting your users' personal data. You should also see if your host offers CDN services, either its own or through a partnership with another service. CDNs help with site speed and protect against DDoS attacks. This will further strengthen the security of your website.
If you don't want to go through the trouble of hosting domain names and business email with other providers, check to see if the host you're interested in offers these services. This last one is a technical feature that's entirely optional, but you should see if your host offers site staging (cloning) so you can test updates and site changes in a controlled environment. A staging environment is especially helpful if you're a web developer.
Things to Avoid in a WordPress Host
Knowing what to avoid can be useful when you're looking for the best hosting for WordPress. That's what this next section is for. Specifically, we'll be going over the following criteria:
You may think it's strange to find price on both of these lists, but it's important for you to approach hosting prices with caution. Cheap and free hosting providers often come with hidden costs in reduced or compromised uptime, server changes and associated risks, and lax security measures – all of which negatively impact your brand and the trust your site users have for you. You may end up with cheap, shoddy, and unprofessional hosting.
Stick with what you can spend and are willing to spend on hosting, and take other features into consideration. Don't choose a host simply because it's cheap, and don't pay more simply because you associate price with quality. If you come across a very low priced hosting offer, we highly recommend to check user reviews prior to signing up. Low priced hosting usually comes with various restructions, be aware of this.
New Hosting Companies
Stay away from the newbies. Here's the hard truth: The hosting market space sees lots of new companies launch and fail quickly. The falling price tag of the necessary technology, coupled with lower barriers to entry in terms of practical and legal requirements to do business in global market, make it an attractive proposition for budding entrepreneurs. Evaluate any potential hosting provider's level of experience.
Give a new company time to establish and prove that it will stick around long-term. Experienced developers can use dummy sites to test out new hosts without facing too many consequences, but if you want to build a professional website, stay away from new hosts. The best hosting for WordPress already exists, so it doesn't do you any good to gamble with an inexperienced host.
This one ties into the last point. It's safer to stay away from new hosts, but you shouldn't necessarily trust a host simply because they've been in the game for a while. Do your research, and sift through WordPress hosting reviews on review websites, blog posts, forums and comment sections. See what others say about the host you're interested in, and determine whether or not any negative points made are severe enough to deter you from using them.
The Term “Unlimited”
Another competitive feature frequently touted by some hosting providers is a promise of unlimited bandwidth, or unlimited storage. What is really meant by these terms? There's no such thing as unlimited. It might surprise you to learn that your definition of unlimited probably doesn't exactly match with that of your hosting provider.
Instead, hosting companies mean something more along the lines of as much bandwidth (or storage) as your hardware can handle. A better term might be unmeasured or off meter – meaning they're not measuring or actively seeking to restrict it. But if the hardware imposes limitations, then limitations there most certainly will be. If you reach the limits, you would need to upgrade your hosting plan.
Have you ever used an unlimited data plan from your cell phone provider only to be faced with slower speeds after reaching a certain limit? The same thing happens with hosting, even in some of the best hosting for WordPress. Some hosts offer “unlimited” plans but hit your site with poor performance once you've reached a certain limit.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hosting for WordPress
Reliable web hosting for WordPress isn't hard to find, so it's best to know what you're looking for and consider what you need before you start looking. To recap, here's the information to figure out before you start looking:
- Budget (upfront and monthly)
- Type of website you want to build
- Amount of traffic your site receives or will receive
- How much you know about WordPress / how much you're willing to learn
Once you have that down, you can narrow your list of options down to a few specific choices, and focus on things like what type of support you need, which control panel seems most user friendly to you and more. We here at MH Themes recommend hosting your sites with Bluehost, SiteGround or Kinsta. If you want to learn more about them and other great WordPress hosting services, check out this post: WordPress Hosting: 6 Best WordPress Hostings to Use in 2020
Also, we want to know what you think. Let us know what hosts you use, what you recommend when looking for the best hosting for WordPress and any questions you have in the comments below.
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