Looking for a reliable WordPress hosting company?
Back in the old days finding a web host used to be easy.
The options were few, and decisions were based upon budgets and very little else. Site owners could select from among “shared” hosting services with a cost of up to $15 a month, or “dedicated” servers that could be rented for $500 a month up to far more.
Obviously, small business owners and individual bloggers chose shared hosting and large businesses had the funds to rent dedicated servers. Pretty simple, right?
Today the options have expanded drastically. Now, it’s a bit more complex to find the right server and specific features of that server to meet your needs.
In today’s guide we’d like to cover all the ins and outs of choosing the right WordPress hosting for your website.
Decide What You Need First
Performance and Speed
Good hardware is critical here. If you are not an expert on RAM, CPUs, HDDs and SSDs, then the thing to do is to go with a web host that is well-known and that has an established reputation. There are a lot of hosting companies out there that are pretty “fly by night,” and you can end up with slow speeds and lots of “down time.”
Again the amount of support you will need is based on your technical expertise. If you are a small business or a new blogger, then make sure that you check out the amount of support that goes with the plan you choose. The best option is to go with known hosts, who usually offer perks like 24/7 chat or phone support and could go an extra mile for you by helping to solve your issue.
If your site is down often, you are losing visitors and potential customers. Most well-known web hosts have about a 99.5 % rate of uptimes. That’s the number you should keep in mind.
Understanding Categories of WordPress Hosting
The great thing about reputable web hosting services is that most now offer multiple categories of services depending on your needs. But there are still basic categories you need to understand that will help you determine the best host/services for you.
This is the cheapest form and, as well the least flexible. The basic idea is this. One server hosts a large number of websites, including yours, and the memory, processing and disk space is all shared.
The problem is this: to make a profit, the host will have to place a lot of sites on that one server. As these sites grow and traffic increases, the server can get overloaded. This may slow down your site and, at times, overloads cause outages. The other usual complaint is that support is backed up, and it can take hours to get a response from the host – even then, they are often not WordPress specialists. They can only address server issues.
Advantages, however, are clear. One, of course, is the price – sometimes as low as $2.00 per month. If you are starting a new business or a blog and you expect less than 200 visitors a month, then shared hosting is a good place to start. As you grow, you will have to upgrade though.
A virtual private server is not for the technologically-challenged (newbies) because, while you may have the benefits of no slowdowns or crashes, you have to modify what you are given in terms of disk space, processing power, and memory yourself to accommodate your own needs. The benefit is that you only pay for the resources you actually use.
This is a good option for experienced blogger or developers who want to craft a website for a very specific purpose.
Your website is the only one on a server. This is an expensive way to go, but it is the right solution for websites that have huge amounts of traffic and functions.
Managed WordPress Hosting
This is a great option for non-techies who need that side of their site taken care of by someone else. The hosting company caches the website, fixes any security issues, installs all updates, runs malware scans and daily backups.
If your site ever crashes, the host restores it, and there is 24/7 support. Reasonably priced scalability is also an option. And the best part? No down time. This is a good option for site owners who want to focus on their businesses and their blogs and nothing else.
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Reviews of The Top Three WordPress Hosting Options
BlueHost offers shared, VPS, Optimized, and Dedicated hosting for WordPress, with three options and pricing within each category. It is possible for someone just starting out to spend as little as $3.95/month for the basic shared hosting plan, up to $124.99 (introductory price) for the premium dedicated plan. It has been around many years and is one of the favored of the shared hosting providers.
BlueHost does a pretty good job of providing “up-time” that is standard for shared hosting providers. While users have experienced down times, many stick with BlueHost because of its good speed in loading. One reviewer ran a test of BlueHost load time and found it to be 0.079 seconds at that time. However, load time will depend upon how other many other sites are loading at the same time on the shared server.
Anyone can obtain a full refund within the first 30 days and a pro-rated amount thereafter.
This is an important element when looking at web hosting, and people often overlook this feature when looking at options. BlueHost does have daily, weekly, and monthly backups as a standard feature. If you have a small website or blog, more than the standard is not necessary. Those who have large sites should probably pay for the pro-version.
Basic Shared Plans
Here are a few details of the three shared plans offered:
- From 50 GB of space to unlimited
- From 5 – unlimited packed domains
- From 25 – unlimited sub-domains
- From 5 – unlimited email accounts
- These plans offer features that other shared hosts do not, such as support for PERL, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, WordPress, b1 evolution, Drupal and Joomla. All of these can be installed through the control panel.
- Lots of help center and e-commerce tools at additional cost.
- Costs of added features are pretty reasonable – extra domains @ $10/year; Additional IP addresses @ $30/year; and SSL certificates @ $40/year.
- No setup fee and free domain name registration
- cPanel is good and user-friendly
- BlueHost is a WordPress recommended host
- Shared hosting means overloads and “down time.” The most recent episode, in late November, 2015, resulted in lots of complaints posted all over the web.
- Other hosts provide transfers for free. BlueHost charges $99.99 to migrate sites (up to 5).
- BlueHost does not support ASP.NET/Windows OS. If you have a site based on any Windows platform you have to go elsewhere for hosting
- There are some complaints about customer service taking so long. Many customers have joined BlueHost “support” groups for troubleshooting as a result.
BlueHost Cloud Solution, Optimized WordPress Hosting, and Dedicated Hosting
These three plans offer hosting that is not shared, and the details of the features of all of these plans are available on the BlueHost website. Among all of the options within the three plans, prices can range from $5.95/month for the basic VPS service to $124.99/month for the premium dedicated hosting plan. There are options for lots of a la carte features as well. The features of these three plans are comparative to other similar plans.
This hosting provider was launched in 2010, and one of the primary investors was Automattic, a company that also heavily invested in WordPress. It is an exclusive host, in that it only hosts WordPress sites and blog. It is also a managed host, which means that it caches your site, installs all WordPress and its hosting updates, repairs security issues, runs malware scans, provides daily backup and restores crashed sites promptly. This seems to be a good option for non-tech individuals who just want to focus on running their businesses and their blogs.
Plans and Pricing
There are 5 plans – personal, professional, business, premium and enterprise. The first three involve shared hosting, the last two are dedicated.
New bloggers and businesses will have all they need with the personal plan – it allows 1 site install, 25K visitors a month, provides 10 GB of local storage and unlimited data transfer. Plans evolve up to the enterprise one which allows up to 150 site installs, 5 million visits, an up to 1TB of local storage.
The personal plan begins at $29.00/month, which many find pricey, but it is a managed hosting service, and that accounts for some of it. The professional and business plans are $99/month and $249/month respectively. Pricing on the top two plans is negotiable dependent upon the details of what the customer wants.
All reviewers seem to agree that the biggest plusses of WPEngine are its uptime and its speed, even for the shared hosting plans. There are rarely interruptions in service or down time.
There are complaints about migration. It is offered for free but there is not assistance provided foe the migration itself, and many users struggle with the process.
There were two issues that cropped up a lot after 2013 – customer support and visit counts. Users were not getting the support they needed and began to complain loudly; users also complained that they were being charged for bot visits and well as multiple times when the same visitor bounced and came back. To address these issues, owner Jason Cohen increased his response team by 50%, remedied bot visit counts, and put tighter controls on counting the same visitor more than once. Throughout 2015, there have been far fewer complaints.
WPEngine offers a full 60-day refund, no questions asked.
- One-click install of WordPress
- Uptime record is excellent
- Managed Hosting
- Automated Daily Backups
- Good Speed
- Staging Sites
- One-Click Restoration
- Pricey, especially for multi-site owners
- Migration is difficult
- Only hosts WordPress
- No Email Hosting
WPEngine is a great host if you are in the following categories:
- You have a single WordPress site with mid to high traffic levels.
- You single WP site is monetized.
- You prefer that maintenance be handled by someone else.
SiteGround has been around since 2004, as a privately-held company. It provides shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting to 250,000+ domains all over the planet with data centers located in North America, Europe, and Singapore. During its 11 years of operation, it has been selected by the “Best Host Directory” as the best web host company twice.
Plans and Pricing
There are 3 shared plans, title “Start-Up,” “Grow Big,” and “Go Geek.” As the prices go up so do the features.
The Start-Up option, for example allows one site installation, 10GB web space, 10K visits/month, free email accounts, and unlimited traffic.
Grow Big allows multiple sites, 20 GB web space, 25,000 visits/month, 1-yr. free SSL certificate, and a higher priority when tech support is needed.
“Go Geek” add more web space, visits, and other features that can be found on the plan descriptions on the web site. Basic shared plans pricing ranges from $3.95 – $11.95 introductory costs.
In addition to shared plans, there are VPs plans ranging in prices up to $140.00/month, and dedicated hosting options which range from $229 – $429/month.
Customer reviews are quite positive on hosting review sites and speak to consistently high uptimes, great features, and ease of use, especially with cPanel. One reviewer who uses SiteGround for his blog praises the host for its 99.9% guaranteed up time that it consistently meets. He has published the uptime reports as a part of his review.
The other common feedback praise relates to speed and customer support.
SiteGround provides a full 30-day refund, as well as a guarantee of 99.9% uptime.
- 30-day automatic backup
- Rapid customer service response
- E-mail hosting with autoresponder option
- Speed and Uptime
- Pricey: Customers should be aware that the renewal price will more than double the initial welcoming pricing offer.
- Difficult to find information on the company site relative to all of the support features documentation.
SiteGround is a good hosting service for newbies, with its three shared plans, as well as for higher-tech users and larger e-commerce concerns. It is a comprehensive host, meeting individual customer needs.
Sometimes, it feels as if comparing WordPress hosts is a bit like playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” All of them have unique features that make them attractive and other drawbacks.
For the new blogger or startup, BlueHost is a great buy, and it will allow customers to begin with a very basic plan.
WPEngine is great for single-site owners who are more established and already have lots of traffic but who also want none of the maintenance tasks.
SiteGround appears to be quite comprehensive. However, its cost hikes at renewal may be a drawback to those who can get essentially the same services on BlueHost for less.
The type of hosting you choose, should depend on your current needs and projected development of your business.
Start small and afterwards opt for more complicated and powerful solutions, once your business takes off in the online world.