WordPress Hosting: What to Look For

Choosing a host for a WordPress site or sites is based on a few primary considerations:

  1. Server Speed & Processing Power
  2. Server Software
  3. Security
  4. Uptime & Reliability
  5. Technical Support & Customer Service
  6. Price

The nature of your work, the number of sites you host, the level of service you provide to clients and the rates you charge will all dictate how you weigh each of these features. Let’s have a look at why each of these factors is so important to host a WordPress site.

1. Server Speed & Processing Power

In today’s demanding world, speed is essential. And, websites that do not load quickly have high bounce rates, high shopping cart abandonment rates and see more customers defecting to their competition. It is just not competitive to host on a platform that does not deliver speed.

The easiest way to ensure you have the fastest load time in your industry is to research all your industry competitors and do competitive site load tests. Establish which site is loading the fastest and find out where it is hosted. Host your site there. Remember also that you will need to test regularly and ensure that your host is offering you the best industry platform for your websites.

2. Server Software

Luckily WordPress has pretty basic requirements when installed on a Linux server.  Here is a look at the minimum requirements.

https://codex.wordpress.org/Template:Server_requirements

Minimum Requirements?  We do not want just the minimum we want a server that is fast and secure so here is what you should be looking for

Linux Based

PHP 7.0, 7.1, or 7.2  — Another super nice to have for PHP is an easy way to switch between them using a control panel.

cPanel Based — If the site is not managed WordPress (like CloudAccess or WPEngine) then you want to look for a cPanel based server. The majority hos hosting servers are cPanel so most developers and support teams are familiar with this setup.  Having a cPanel server will help cut down on bugs and potential configuration issues.

mySQL — Version 5 or newer. Most hosting companies will have this. What to look for is an easy way to access phpMyAdmin.  This will be super helpful should you need to do any database work. phpMyAdmin will also keep you from having to install any extra database browsing plugins.

ionCube loaders — This feature helps with some encrypted plugins. You may or may not need this but if you do, you want it to be there and work.

3. Security

Your host should offer you advanced security options, which can help to minimize the number of malicious attacks carried out. You may be able to ask for a firewall or additional spam filters to be applied to keep your websites as clean as possible. Security is of paramount importance and WordPress does take security breaches very seriously so if you do encounter a problem, your host should offer you a response on the same level as WordPress itself.

The first and most common cause of a security breach occurs when there is a violation of a password and it is hacked. More often than not this practice is carried out by spam bot software that send continuous log in attempts through the log in page until it eventually gets a match. Some hosts can provide additional software, which will block the IP address of any device that sends continual unsuccessful attempts at logging in. Speak to your host about added security features at the server level.

WordPress talks about the second instance of security breach and how you and your host can protect you against attacks:

The second case is when a hack happens at the file system level of a particular shared web host’s server. Since the file system is compromised, files can be modified and Javascript or PHP injections are common and this can affect any software running on the server; Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress! Usually it’s something the individual hosting provider can prevent by increasing security on their shared file systems and servers.

WordPress does offer additional help and support in terms of security and responds promptly to requests. There is additional information and plenty of resources contained on the forums as well.

With open source web software there comes the responsibility of maintaining the website, from a number of different perspectives. This includes the security elements. When WordPress, other software, apps and plug ins go through updates and they are not done, the security becomes compromised. Doing regular updates can help to protect you against vulnerabilities.

Of course, you will also need to ensure you have a completely secure connection with which to access your website. If not, this could also present an area of vulnerability.

And, because the possibility of a hack is always present, regular back ups are also essential. In the unlikely event that your site is hacked, you do need to know that you can restore and retrieve the most recent version of what you had online. If you cannot arrange to do your own back ups, make sure they are included in your hosting package. It’s like insurance for your website, and without it, there is no guarantee that you will always have access to your website.

4. Uptime & Reliability

This is the paragraph for Uptime

5. Tech Support & Customer Service

Technology is now a very well integrated part of our lives and IT is not something reserved for the dark, back room of the office building. If you have a problem or need assistance your hosting provider needs to be able to deal with it in real time, and with minimal inconvenience to you. Some providers are selling their services based on guaranteed uptime, and response time based SLAs, so if technology is the cornerstone of your business, it may be worth paying for an advanced level of service. If you want to offer your clients a service that is above average, pick a hosting provider that is known for the level of their customer service and attention.

6. Price

Ahh Price, it is what makes the world go around.  The saying “You get what you page for” in the world of web hosting.

Not all cheap hosts are bad and not all expensive hosts are the best in the world but in general, you get what you pay for.

Here is a rough guide of the different price points in WordPress Hosting

 

Cheap Inexpensive Hosts

Free to $3/month.  You generally want to avoid these hosting companies. They can disappear, be a scam, or in all likelihood not be a good place to host your WordPress Site.

 

Low-Cost Hosts

$4 to $8 per month. This is where you will see a lot of hosting companies have entry price points.  Think HostGator, Bluehost, 1&1, and many of the other hosting companies owned by the Endurance Group.

 

Quality Excellent Hosting Companies

$9 to $25 per month. In my opinion, this is where you should be shopping.  These companies will have managed WordPress Hosting options, fantastic servers, smart tech support and very competitive prices.

CloudAccess (In-Depth CloudAccess.net Review) is the first name that comes to mind in this category.  They have very reasonably priced plans hosted on fast reliable servers.

 

Top Level Premium Companies

$30 t0 $600 per month.  The well-known company that falls in this range is WPEngine. Full WPEngine Review.  They are a fantastic company that truly provides a world-class service.  They also charge a price to provide these first-rate services.

There are other premium companies, however, if you are at this price point then WPEngine should be your first choice.

In Conclusion

It can seem overwhelming when looking for a host for your new website, but with a little research, it will all come together.

Just keep in mind that the important item is your website it is the important part. Do not get hung up on the research and information.  You can always switch hosting companies if the one you are with is not working out.

If you are not sure you can go with any of our Top WordPress Hosting companies or ask any questions in the comments below.

Further Reading

Steven Johnson, a WP Hosting Reviews senior editor, works from Atlanta and covers all things related to WordPress and Hosting. He graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, has managed hosting companies and now builds WordPress and Joomla Websites for small to medium companies full time.

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