WordPress has evolved from being used and known predominantly as a blogging platform, to one of the biggest content management systems in the world, powering more than 66 million websites.
WordPress is one of the most versatile content management systems (CMS) available, but in order to be able to run it, your hosting package should meet some minimum requirements. The hosting you choose is essential, because the faster your website works and the more it can offer a user, the more likely the person is to stay on your web page and not navigate away to your competition’s sites. We have put some tips together to help you find a host through which to run your WordPress platform, but if you are really unsure of which company to choose, WordPress actually has a list of different providers that they endorse.
Your Minimum Requirements To Run WordPress
WP Beginner, which helps people who are just learning about WordPress, speaks about the importance of having a good hosting package:
Often overlooked, web hosting is one of the key component of every successful website. Choosing the best web hosting for your needs can improve your SEO and increase sales. There are various different types of WordPress hosting options available such as Free, Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and managed WordPress hosting.
In order to be able to run the latest version of WordPress (which is 3.8.1), you should ensure that your hosting package is PHP version 5.2.4 or greater. You will also need MySQL 5.0 or greater to be able to run WordPress. If you want to install earlier versions of WordPress, you will still need PHP and MySQL; you will just need to check which versions are compatible.
The previous version of WordPress, version 3.8 requires PHP 4.3 or greater and MySQL 4.1.2. Even though 3.8.1 is the latest version, some people prefer to use previous versions (WP 3.7.1), because sometimes the bugs are still being ironed out of the latest versions.
So, how do you know which version of PHP you are using? WPML recommends the following test is performed:
Some shared hosting companies have installed both PHP4 and PHP5. The best way to check which version you’re actually using is to ask the PHP processor itself (not the technician in the hosting company). Create a file called php_info.php and put it in your WordPress directory (just next to wp-config.php). This file should contain the following:
Understanding Your Server Requirements
WordPress recommends servers using Nginx and Apache because they are more robust and have all the features required to host the WordPress CMS. However, any server that can support MySQL and PHP will also work. WordPress recommends using the following letter for people who want to find out if their hosting will work, if they are novices:
I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress <http://wordpress.org/> blogging software and I was wondering if my account supported the following: PHP 5.2.4 or greater, MySQL 5.0 or greater, the mod_rewrite Apache module.
Security Advice Directly From WordPress
Hosting becomes more secure when applications for PHP are used that incorporate your username, instead of the server’s default name. You may need to change this, or ask for it to be changed, as the default name might be the server’s.
If you have a few sites to run, it should work through WordPress’ multi-site features, but for those who want to host big networks with multiple blogs and many users, you will probably need to boost your disk space and memory.
A shared server provides you with one account that is held on one server, which has other accounts on it. A practical analogy of understanding how this works is to think of it like an apartment; you have your own living space, but you share the space with other people who also have apartments. The potential downfall to this is that your site might run a bit slower because of the load on that server.
If a dedicated server solution appeals to you, you have one server and one account. The whole server is used for your account, just like having a house of your own. The greatest benefit to doing it this way is that your websites and blogs will not be slowed down because of other sites that are being hosted.
Of course, a dedicated server is more expensive than a shared solution, but there are clear benefits. If you run different blogs on your domain WordPress offers two different options:
You can use the subdomain option or the subdirectory option. The most popular option (and recommended structure) sets up subdomains for the blogs created by your WordPress Network. With the subdomain option, the username of the blog appears first, followed by your domain name. With the subdirectory option, your domain name appears first, followed by the username of the blog.
A LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) server with an enabled mod_rewrite Apache module is the best solution for a network of sites. Mod_rewrite is part of the Apache module that develops reader-friendly URLs.
If you choose the subdomain option, you will need to learn about virtual host entries or wildcard subdomains.
Hosting any website requires you to partner up with a secure and reliable host. If your site loads too quickly or does not display correctly because of an incompatible platform it can impact negatively on your user experience and send your online users to a competitor’s site. In fact, one very useful piece of advice, which is especially beneficial if you can’t make your mind up about choosing providers, is to go to your competitors’ sites and find the ones that load the fastest. Once you have identified them, go and find out where the site is hosted. The reason why this is useful is because you generally don’t know how good or effective a host is until you try working with them. And if you identify that your host is not good enough, your site will be affected negatively before you have a chance to resolve the problem.
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.