How you host your website can make all the difference in how your website loads and works. Choosing the right plan for your needs can be complicated. It has also become a heated debate topic with no clear solution. So, how can you determine your WordPress webhost needs?
This graphic helps walk you through the decisions you need to make when planning your hosting needs:
If you are unfamiliar with the type of hosting that you reached, review these terms:
- Free – http://wordpress.com Who doesn’t like free hosting? It’s perfectly fine if you are just getting started and want to test the waters before making a financial commitment. I’d only recommend WordPress.com as it will easily migrate to self-hosted WordPress(.org) later.
- Shared hosting – where many websites reside on one web server connected to the Internet. Each site “sits” on its own partition, or section/place on the server, to keep it separate from other sites. This is generally the most economical option for hosting, as many people share the overall cost of server maintenance.
- VPS (Virtual Private Server)– runs its own copy of an operating system, and customers have superuser-level access to that operating system instance, so can install almost any software that runs on that OS. For many purposes they are functionally equivalent to a dedicated physical server, and being software defined are able to be much more easily created and configured. They are priced much lower than an equivalent physical server, but as they share the underlying physical hardware with other VPSs, the performance may be less, and may depend on the workload of other instances on the same hardware node.
- Dedicated hosting – a type of Internet hosting in which the client leases an entire server not shared with anyone else. This is more flexible than shared hosting, as organizations have full control over the server(s), including choice of operating system, hardware, etc.
- Managed WordPress hosting – a provider manages only WordPress built websites. This provider specializes in keeping your WordPress website secure, fast, and optimized. Examples: WPEngine, Page.Ly, WordPress.com VIP
When you choose your hosting, I believe it is absolutely important that you maintain some control over the plans, even if you hire out the actual work of creating and developing your website.
A dozen years ago it was perfectly acceptable for the design agency to also host your website. Sometimes they would be a reseller for other providers. Years later, I’ve heard more horror stories than happy experiences when the client doesn’t pay the bill to the actual hosting company.
You, as the business, can pay for hosting and still hold the keys to your space online (your hosting). Give the developers and designers access to that as needed.
The only exception I’ve found to this is a hybrid plan where your developer can provide complete access to the client’s hosting within their managed WordPress hosting. WPEngine does this nicely.
For my needs, I’ve recently moved away from Shared HostGator hosting to SiteGround‘s Shared GoGeek plan (affiliate link). I had been a happy customer of HostGator for over 8 years and brought my clients to them. Once they were acquired (2012) the quality of service and performance severely dropped.
Since moving to SiteGround, my website loads faster than ever, the support has been fantastic, and I have access to improved tools. This will be my go-to place for clients in the future.