A good web host is crucial to a site’s success. However, the sheer number of hosting choices available can be daunting to most website owners. In this guide we will share the things you need to consider while choosing a web host, and recommend some hosts depending on your needs.
What Are Your Needs?
First, consider the purpose of your website. While most website owners want a host that offers speed, storage, and reliability at the best price, it can be difficult to find the right balance. Identifying your goals will help you determine which factors are most important to you. Some questions to ask are:
- What is the site’s purpose (e.g. ecommerce, marketing)?
- What is your site’s audience?
- Where are they located?
- How many visitors do you have currently?
Types of WordPress Hosts
Free WordPress Hosting
If you are looking for free WordPress hosting, look no further than wordpress.com. You can get signed up and running in a matter of minutes, and since it runs on WordPress (obviously) you get most of its features without installing WordPress on your own. The main drawback to the free version of wordpress.com is that you can’t have your own domain — you are limited to yourname.wordpress.com. Another drawback is that you are limited in the kinds of themes and plugins you can use. If you want your own domain, and use your own themes, you will have to pay.
- It’s free!
- If you use wordpress.com, it’s pretty fast
- Can’t use your own domain
- Limited themes and plugins
Shared WordPress Hosting
Shared hosting is the most affordable tier of hosting, and is great for beginners and new sites. You can think of it as a rental apartment for your site. Your site will be hosted on a server that is shared with hundreds of other sites. These hosts usually offer 1-click WordPress installs included in their cPanel.
When choosing shared hosting, be aware of offers of unlimited bandwidth and storage. Server space, just like physical space, comes at a price. And when you are sharing your server with hundreds of other sites, you can be sure that your bandwidth and storage is not unlimited. Once your sites starts getting over a thousand visitors a day it might be time to upgrade.
- Affordable (usually $5-7/month)
- Easy to set up
- Can’t handle a lot of traffic
- Limited resources
WordPress VPS Hosting
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server, and it means pretty much like it sounds — you get a private server that is created virtually. This means that while you might be sharing server space with other sites, the server is partitioned so that you get your own dedicated resources. Think of it as a high-end luxury apartment where there is less crowding.
When choosing VPS hosting be sure to find out if it is managed or not. You will need quite a bit of technical knowledge to run your site on a VPS host that is not managed. A managed VPS plan will come with setup, upgrades, and customer assistance.
- More resources means a faster website
- You have much more control over your server
- Pricier (can be hundreds per month for managed VPS)
- Requires a lot of know-how if VPS is not managed
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
At this tier you get your own physical server. This is like owning your own house, which means complete control, and depending on your service plan, a lot more responsibility in managing the server.
- Complete control
- Ultimate resources to handle high traffic
- Most expensive
Managed WordPress Hosting
In recent years, providers have started to offer a new type of hosting that is just for WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting tries to find a balance between the affordability of shared hosting and the power of VPS hosting. So while your site will be on servers shared with other WordPress sites, the host provider configures these servers so that WordPress can run as fast as it can. Depending on your host, extra services can include security scanning, automatic WordPress upgrades, and scheduled backups.
- More power than shared hosting but less expensive than VPS hosting
- Extra benefits such as scheduled upgrades and backups
- Some plugins are not allowed because they are resource-intensive
- You can only run WordPress, and sometimes Multisite is not supported
SiteGround is one of the best shared hosts out there. Their responsive support is what makes them stand out. The support team usually gets back to you within 15-30 minutes, which means a lot of issues can be resolved in a day. Depending on your plan, you can also get access to caching and git.
If you’re feeling technical and brave, check out Digital Ocean to set up your VPS hosting. For $10/month you can get up and running with a super fast server. However, you are pretty much on your own in terms of set up and maintenance.
FlyWheel is a relatively new managed WordPress host, but its getting a lot of love for its attention to detail. Not only does FlyWheel provide you with automated backups and upgrades, it even migrates your website for free. What’s more, designers and developers can sign up and create a site and then transfer billing to the client once the project is done.