Having your own website gives you the opportunity to deliver your thoughts, products, services or whatnot to anyone, anytime and anywhere around the globe. You can reach the four corners of the world while only moving your fingers, which is just astonishing. What’s also amazing is that anyone can easily create a brand new website nowadays.
Content management systems, such as WordPress, have made it possible for the average internet user who has no programming experience to build and run a website using a simple visual interface. It only takes a few hours or maybe a few days for a complete beginner to get the hang of the basic features and tools in WordPress.
While beginners may love the WP system for its ease of installation and use, experienced users and web developers also prefer it due to the fact that it is an open-source software, meaning anyone can modify the source code and customize the system as they wish.
If you’ve already made up your mind on using WordPress as your site’s engine, the next thing you have to do is to find the right web hosting service. There are many great hosting companies out there, but we are not going to discuss any of them here. Instead, we’ll give you some basic guidelines and tips that can help you choose the best hosting provider for your WP site. So let’s get started!
Which type of hosting do you need?
Before getting to smaller technical details, the first step is to understand the difference between the major types of web hosting services in order to pick the one that suits your site’s needs as well as your budget.
There are three primary types of website hosting: Shared, VPS and dedicated servers. Since this guide is meant for beginners, let’s just rule out the third option for now. A dedicated server would be suitable for a very large and well-established business website, but for a startup website you’ll most likely need either a shared hosting plan or a VPS.
Shared hosting is the most affordable option since multiple users share the same server and thus the overall cost of running the server is split between them. However, shared plans come with limited server resources and varying performance that depends on resource usage by all sites sharing the server. For a small blog or a thin site with low to moderate traffic, shared hosting may be the best choice in terms of cost.
VPS stands for virtual private server, which provides an isolated server space with dedicated resources. You can usually select the amount of each resource (CPU cores, RAM, and disk space) available to your VPS when creating it, and you can later add more resources when the need arises.
With more resources that are fully dedicated to your site, a virtual private server guarantees higher performance and improved page loading speed, especially for business sites that receive high volumes of traffic.
If you are starting a small business website that is built on WordPress, it might be a wise choice to go with VPS hosting right from the beginning. Cloud-based VPS plans are more readily scalable and can seamlessly grow as your online business grows. An article published on Startup Info provides more insight about some of the most reliable cloud VPS providers on the market today.
What features to look for?
Each hosting service and each plan comes with a different bundle of features and limitations that you should pay close attention to in order to pick the one that provides enough resources for your website, but not too much to the point where you’d be wasting money on resources that never get used.
You should have a rough estimate of the disk space and monthly bandwidth your website will be consuming during the year ahead or so. For disk storage, look for hosts that use SSD or NVMe SSD drives because the performance and speed will be noticeably higher compared to slower HDD drives.
As for bandwidth, many companies try to lure in customers by offering “unlimited” bandwidth, but that is just a marketing trick. Nothing is unlimited, and if you carefully read the terms of service you’ll find out that they do have limits on the “unlimited” bandwidth according to a fair use policy, which varies from one company to another.
The web server software can also play an important role in your website’s performance. Apache is the most commonly used web server and it’s a fairly good choice. But if you want better performance for WordPress sites, look for the LiteSpeed web server. The latter comes with a free caching plugin that is well optimized for WP and can make a huge difference in the loading speed of your site’s pages.
Some companies offer a free domain name with their web hosting plans (usually for the first year only), so if you haven’t already registered your domain name, you can take advantage of such free offers. It is worth noting though that many experienced webmasters usually pass up such free domain opportunities and prefer to register their business domains with a registrar they trust. Keeping your domains separated from your hosting company is generally a safer practice.
Other important features to look for include an SSL certificate, adequate number of email accounts and MySQL databases, automatic backups, security tools, and an uptime guarantee.
Managed or unmanaged WordPress hosting?
Most websites running WordPress use normal shared web hosting services, which can also be called unmanaged WP hosting. The installation, configuration and maintenance of WordPress would be your responsibility in this case, but you can still ask the support team for assistance with any technical issues you run into.
On the other hand, managed WordPress hosting makes it easier for beginners to launch and run their website while most of the technical tasks get handled by the host’s automated systems and support team. This type of service usually comes with essential WP management tools that are fully configured optimized out of the box. These usually include a staging environment, caching system, backup service, advanced security, and others.
A fully managed WP hosting service can save you a lot of time and effort compared to a do-it-yourself, generic web hosting plan. On the downside, the management service can dramatically drive the price up depending on the level of support included.
Good technical support is crucial
The support team is the most crucial aspect of a web hosting provider, which is usually what separates the reliable ones from the terrible ones. Most cheap services outsource their support operations to inept offshore agents that may fail you big time when you most urgently need technical assistance.
But having an in-house support team does not necessarily mean you’ll get a better service, just like not all outsourced support agents are necessarily less helpful. It is highly advised that you contact and interact with the support team prior to signing up so that you can at least get a rough assessment of their professionalism and helpfulness.
Suman(Kul Prasad) Pandit is a graduate from Tribhuvan University with four-year experience in corporate and start-up sectors in UK and USA. Being a responsible & sustainable business enthusiast he is dedicated to business education to solve problems in entrepreneurship and business growth.